JACKSON, Wyo. — Grizzled mushers will all tell you, you can’t win the race on Day 1 but you sure can lose it. A poor start to Alpine puts a team at a disadvantage they’ll be chasing all week long. A strong start goes a long way in the confidence department.
Day 1 in Alpine
Weather was perfect for the first leg of the race in Alpine Saturday. The Greys River track proved fast for most as six teams were able to run the same 28 miles faster this year than they did in 2019. Austin Forney was 7 minutes quicker this time around. Jeff Conn (6 mins.), Alix Crittenden (3 mins.) Rachel Courtney (2 mins.), and Bruce Magnusson (2 mins.) also bettered their 2019 times.
But it was defending champ Anny Malo who stole the show Saturday, turning in a blistering 1:43:59—five minutes quicker than last year. Malo, who averaged 16.2 mph, was more than 2 minutes faster than 2nd place finisher Lina Streeper. But Streeper is notorious for biding her time and saving her dogs for the second half of the race.
Day 2 in Pinedale
Rolling hills and a stiff headwind slowed dogs down on Day 2 in Pinedale. Average mph were back down to earth ranging from about 12-14 mph instead of the previous day’s 14-16 mph.
Anny Malo again proved fastest for the day, finishing the 34-mile course in 2:22:46, more than two minutes quicker than 2nd place Lina Streeper’s 2:24:23. That gives Malo the overall lead by almost 4 minutes. Jeff Conn, Rachel Courtney, and Alix Crittenden round out the top 5, with Bruce Magnusson just a second back of the pack in 6th.
Something to keep an eye on: Both Streeper and Conn dropped dogs along the way. All teams started with 10 dogs but Streeper finished with 8, Conn with 9.
It’s on to Kemmerer for Stage 3 of the race on Monday. Conditions are expected to be quite snowy for this leg.
Alix Crittenden hunkers down out of the wind during a segment of the Pinedale leg Sunday. Video: Courtesy Wyoming Stage Stop
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