Bill Hastings

#15 JR Anderson

15 — JR Anderson from Buyck, Minnesota.  

Age 44.

A native of Minnesota, JR Anderson has dedicated over 20 years to the sport of endurance canines. He and wife, Anna ‘Chapman’ Anderson, own the River Rock Kennel in Buyck, Minnesota. When not racing dogs, JR can be found playing with his daughter Sara and son Eli. Through research, extensive training, and competitive racing, he’s developed a keen knowledge of the canine’s ability to perform at accelerated levels.

#14 Charlie Conner

14— Charlie Conner from Loon Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Age 42.

Charlie is a member of the Peter Ballantine Cree Nation, and a multi-generational mushing family. In fact, “Conner” is Scottish family name that means dog lover. He was raised on the Ma-Mow-We-Tak circuit and is passionate about sharing dog mushing with his family and others. When he’s not racing or touring in the winter, he loves being a Land Based Teacher. Three years ago, Charlie started the Connor Family Racing & Tours, and promotes dog sledding in western Canadian schools. He placed in last year’s Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival.

#13 Mike Bestgen


13— Mike Bestgen from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Age 65.

“My wife, Vicki and I have four adult children, and ten grandchildren. I’ve been racing long and middle distances the last 25 years, and hope to continue doing it for a while yet,” Mike says. He’s a three time winner of the WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race in Ely, Minnesota, two time Midnight Run champ, and runner up at the Klondike Sled Dog Derby. “Last year was my first time at the Stage Stop and it was awesome,” he writes. “The people, the volunteers, the trails, everything about it was great. I’m glad to be returning for another year.”

#12 Rachel Courtney


12 — Rachel Courtney from Caliento, Manitoba, Canada.

Age 31.
Rachel Courtney is a dog trainer who began mushing in 2002 with her pet Siberian Husky, Cindy. In 2010, she traveled to Canada to learn more about mushing and fell in love with the sport and lifestyle, then started her own kennel three years later. Rachel now has a kennel of 28 dogs and a daughter who is starting to learn to run dogs, following in her mom’s “footsteps in the snow.” “This year I have joined kennel with Nate Metzen and we are very excited to return to the Pedigree Stage Stop as it is one of my favorite races.”

#11 Cathy Rivest

11 — Cathy Rivest from St-Paul-de-Joliette, Quebec, Canada.

Age 46.

Cathy began sledding as a twelve-year-old helping to run the family sled dog tour business. Business quickly turned into competition — competitive sled dog racing. Cathy has raced sprint class, 4-dog and 6-dogs, and dryland. She’s been an active part of Quebec’s Provincial Federation the past ten years. Cathy has worked as a prosthetist with amputees for the past 25 years. She says that her favorite sprint race is Laconia, New Hampshire. “I’m so thankful to race the 2024 Pedigree Stage Stop with my brother Marco Rivest’s team. This stage race is a ‘must do’ of a lifetime”.

#10 Sarah Tarlton


10 — Sarah Tarlton from Mountain, Wisconsin.

Age 44.

Sarah Tarlton is a jack of all trades but a master of none. She started handling dogs in 2015 with Ryan Beaber and his daughters, then started racing in 2019. She loves learning everything she can about taking care of her dogs and giving them the best she can to show their true athletic potential especially in such a top notch racing circuit with so many incredible other mushers. “I wouldn’t be where I am without her biggest supporter and pusher to keep going, Ryan Beaber.” Sarah placed ninth overall in last year’s Pedigree Stage Stop Race. “I’m looking forward to this year’s Stage Stop.”

#9 Anny Malo


9 — Anny Malo from St-Zenon, Quebec, Canada.

Age 53.

Anny started mushing in 1995 when she met Marco. It was clear from the start that the woman of his life would have to share his passion. And she did!!! Quickly, they decided to get into the sport seriously. In 1998 they handled at Joe and Pam Redington’s Iditarod Kennel for eight months. After that, they started traveling with their family and the dogs. Anny holds the record for a single musher with the most consecutive Stage Stop championships totaling five 1st place finishes from 2019 through 2023. “Our goal is to get better each year,” says the returning champion.

#8 Jess Moore


8 — Jess Moore from Jackson, Wyoming

Born and raised in Jackson, Wyoming, Jess began working for JHI as a tour guide in 2018. In 2019, she began working as a handler for the JHI race team and has been hooked ever since. Jess has put in her time as a handler at the Stage Stop for several years but this will be her first year stepping on the runners. “I’m super excited to run some new trails and see the other side of this race!”

#7 Laura Bontrager


7 — Laura Bontrager from Newberry, Michigan.

Age 30. 

Laura started running dogs 24 years ago with a 4H group started by Jan & Bob Shaw, and their kennel Arctic Wind Racing Sled Dogs. Jan and Bob became like grandparents, and she was fortunate to train and race at Arctic Wind competitively throughout high school and college. Laura now co-manages a kennel with Bruce Magnusson and gets to run the same trails she grew up on. “I’m looking forward to getting out on the trail and having fun with 16 of my best friends.”

#6 Donny Poulin


6 — Donny Poulin from The Pas, Manitoba, Canada.

Age 49.

This is Donny’s second time running the Stage Stop. He was born into the sport — both his father and mother come from mushing backgrounds, He began mushing when he was four years old. His father, Brian, started running dogs in the early 70s, his mother, Jackie, grew up with sled dogs; the 6-dog race in The Pas is named after her father, Jack McPhail. Donny has raced in The Pas World Championship 29 times and the Harold McLeod championship in Cross Lake more than 20 times. “We raced Wyoming last winter and loved it so much we decided to come back and try it again.”

#5 Chris Adkins


5 — Chris Adkins from Sand Coulee, Montana.

Age 55.

Chris states that he’s a “lumberyard dispatcher/cat herder” in his online application. He grew up running dogs, and attempted his first distance race, the Race To The Sky 500, at 21. He entered the Stage Stop Race in 2010 as a training run for the Iditarod and fell in love with the trails of Wyoming. Chris and his wife Shannon, with the help of the kids, operate Mo Betta Sled Dog Racing, a 50-plus dog kennel in Sand Coulee, Montana. This will be Chris’ tenth Stage Stop. “Apparently, I just can’t get enough of it!”

#4 Remy Coste


4 — Remy Coste from France.

Age 48.

Previously a baker in France at Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Remy says “so I’m one of the best bakers in France.” He began racing dogs in 2012 with partner Aurelie Delattre, also a musher. They lived in Sweden for seven years training dogs for several European mid-distance races. This mushing couple then decided they wanted to see the “really famous” North American races. Please welcome them to their first Stage Stop competition. “We are super happy to be here for the season and hope to meet a lot of new people.”

#3 Austin Forney

3 — Austin Forney from Leadville, Colorado.

Age 42.

Austin comes from a sixth-generation line of cattle ranchers in the Sandhills of western Nebraska. In 2006, Austin switched from cattle & horses to sled dogs and has been chasing his mushing dreams ever since. He currently lives and trains at elevation 10,152 ft. in Leadville, Colorado. Austin says that he and his veteran handlers, Rich and Ben, are “excited to spend another year in Wyoming with all of the amazing people and dogs of the Pedigree Stage Stop Race.” He also wants to send a huge thanks to all his family and friends for their continued love and support. This is Austin’s ninth consecutive year competing at the Stage Stop Race. “See you in Jackson!”

#2 Michael Tetzner

2 — Michael Tetzner from Burg, Germany.

Age 58.

Michael’s homebase is a farm in Burg, in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany where he has a 60-dog kennel. He began mushing in 1987 after watching a sled dog race in Germany, then started running Siberian Huskies and he’s been racing dogs all over the world since. Michael placed third overall in the 2023 Fur Rondy Open World Championships and got an award for the best dog care. His daughter Leonie (age 13) will be his handler. “Running the Stage Stop had been my dream for many years, so I look forward to running again this year.”

#1 Tim Thiessen

1 — Tim Thiessen from Leadville, Colorado.

Age 40.

Tim has run the Stage Stop every year since 2019. His passion for dog sledding began in 2003 when he began working for a Breckenridge, Colorado dog sled tour company. He soon began competing in the local Colorado race circuit with his own team. Tim and his partner, Natalie, share their high-altitude homestead in the Mosquito Range of central Colorado with dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, and some geese. “Every year presents new challenges, and I’m excited to, once again, to compete in this esteemed event!”

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    #18 Rachel Courtney

    18 — Rachel Courtney from Manitoba, Canada.

    Age 30.

    When she was ten years old in Mainburg, Germany, Rachel started mushing with her pet Siberian Husky, and was “immediately hooked on mushing.” Four years later she began bikejoring, riding a bike with a dog pulling. At 18, she came to Canada to learn more about the sport, and after handling for Chris Turner in The Pas, Manitoba quickly realized that is what she wanted to do. “I own a kennel of 18 sled dogs. This will be my fourth year running the Stage Stop, and I am excited to return for this year’s race!”

    #17 Liz Thompson

    17 — Liz Thompson from Saint Anthony, Idaho.

    Age 32.

    Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Liz started mushing in 2011 with Luna Lobos Dog Sled Tours, then became a handler with Buddy and Terry Streeper for three seasons. “Although I’ve never had my own dogs, I’ve been lucky enough to learn from the best, and drive for some amazing mushers like Terry, Bud and Lina Streeper, Thad McKracken and Alix Crittenden. I’m very excited and honored to get to run this year’s event for Jake Robinson. Thanks, Jake, for the opportunity. I can’t wait to share the trail with all my friends this year.”

    #22 Doug Butler

    22 — Doug Butler from Middlebury, Vermont.

    Age 68.

    On his online application, Doug writes that he’s been a “dairy farmer since birth. Dairy farming and dog sled racing has been my whole life except for my family. I love my dogs, and I love racing.” Doug now raises beef cattle at his family farm in Vermont and operates Cobble Hill Kennel. Five years ago, he brought his infectious love for the sport to the world stage when he competed in the Open North American Championship in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is Doug’s third Stage Stop.