24 — Ben Barrett from Middlebury, Vermont.
In a normal year Ben would be attending his college graduation in February, but instead he’s coming back to Wyoming to compete in his second Pedigree Stage Stop Race. Ben learned to mush straight out of high school when he was 18, and has been working with Doug Butler in Middlebury, Vermont, for four years now. He manages Cobble Hill Kennel, a dog sled tour company which he helped found, and races their second dog team. Ben is excited to race in Wyoming again and is ready to improve on last year’s time!
23 — Ryan Beaber from Lily, Wisconsin.
Ryan is a custom home builder who started running dogs as a hobby, and then turned to competitive racing in 2016. It was a good way to build strong bonds with his children who have travelled to races in Tahquamenon Falls, Apostle Islands, Bear Grease, Gunflint, Midnight run and Copperdog. Now, all three daughters race, too. Finally, a year ago he found 63 acres attached to many more thousands of acres to train and run the dogs. “Several mentors including Bruce Magnusson and Lloyd Gilbertson have taught us so much about training, feeding, care, racing and the responsibilities sled dog racing entails. I have been told by several mushers this race is a must and a great learning experience and I am looking forward to enjoying every minute of it.”
22— Guy Girard from Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Canada P.Quebec.
Guy is retired, and since 1977 has followed this sport to compete in many states. He lives on the south shore in Quebec, near Montreal where the weather is too warm, and the lack of trails make it difficult to train his dogs. For the last two years, his main goal has been to race in Alaska. His friends Marco and Annie Rivest said many nice things about the Stage Stop, and he decided it would be a new challenge. “For me, being surrounded by dogs is what I enjoy the most.”
21 — Érick Laforce from Lanoraie, Quebec, Canada.
Érick is a Montreal firefighter who grew up in a small town at the edge of the country. He spent his teenage years in Montreal where a husky he later named Max came to him in the school yard one day. He says that the magic of that moment created the spark that made him the passionate musher he is today. Érick placed first in the 2018 The Pas World Championship, and first in all three 2017 Cross Lake Trappers Festival Races in Manitoba, Kamba Carnival, and western Canadian races. He and his three boys still live on the same street where he started his first kennel.
20 — Doug Butler from Middlebury, Vermont.
One of the most notorious mushers on the Northeast circuit, Doug Butler is back for the 2021 Stage Stop Race! Doug has a well-earned reputation over his 45 years of mushing for his ability to party both on and off the race course. A former dairy farmer, Doug now raises beef cattle at his family farm in Vermont, and operates Cobble Hill Kennel. Two 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. It may be a ragtag outfit, but Doug is a fan favorite and excited to come back to Wyoming!
19 — Ed Stielstra from McMillan, Michigan.
Ed grew up in Ludington, Michigan enjoying competitive sports, dogs, and, mostly, simply being outside. After high school, he attended Michigan State University where he received a Bachelor of Science from Lyman Briggs College of Science. About 17 years ago, Ed was attracted to the immense passion that sled dogs live with. That’s when he left his “real world” job and moved to Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula to operate Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Adventures and Racing. In addition to running dogs, his favorite activities are traveling with his two children, Nate and Fern, and spending time outdoors and in the woods. Ed has competed in eight Iditarods, plus numerous mid-distance races throughout the lower 48. He is looking forward to adding the Stage Stop to his resume.
18 — Laura Neese from McMillan, Michigan.
On a small farm in Newark, Ohio, Laura and her oldest sister raised Boer goats, and for eight years her 4-H project was training and showing five family dogs. She fell in love with dog mushing and long distance racing when she was nine years old, and her family followed the Iditarod as a homeschool project. After four years learning everything she could, she started a small kennel in Ohio, and began running short races in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She graduated from high school at age 16, and earned an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology at Penn Foster College. In 2014 she moved to McMillan, Michigan, to pursue her dream of long distance racing at Nature’s Kennel in the Upper Peninsula.
17 — Diane Marquis from St Medard, Quebec, Canada.
Diane is retired from a long career of cattle farming. She enjoys fishing, hunting, and anything which puts her outside, and that’s one of the main reasons she started dog sledding 20 years ago. Her first team was Siberian Huskies, but it wasn’t long before her competitive nature brought her in the Alaskan Husky world. She has competed in both the Trapper festival in The Pas and Cross Lake, Manitoba. In 2009, Diane won the silver medal at the Daaquam River Dog Sled International in St-Juste-de-Bretenières. She is also the founder of the Basque Challenge.
16 —Thad Mccracken from Mosier, Oregon.
Thad is a software engineer in Portland who never planned to get into mushing until his wife Colleen bought a rescue dog, Benny, who showed excellent pulling abilities. Their first race, a skijor, resulted in a last place finish and totally hooked Thad and Colleen into the sport. In the twelve years since that less than stellar beginning, Thad and his Mosier Misfits team have travelled all over North America “to amazing places with even more amazing people” he writes. Thad is excited to give ‘“the big race” a go in 2021!
15 — Ken Chezik from Fife Lake, Michigan.
Ken Chezik is an irrigation service manager who works 60-70 hours a week for nine months so that he can race his dog team the other three. He started the sport in 1978 by racing friends’ Siberians. He joined Betcha Katcha Kennel in 1979, and joined his mentors Dale and Barb Munford in the lower 48 until Barb’s death in 1997. He and his wife Lori began to follow their two part dream of going to Alaska to race, and later stage racing. He has competed in most of the Open and Limited Class competitions in Alaska. Ken’s passion for the sport means he’s looking forward for new challenges such as the Stage Stop Race.
14 — Gwenn Bogart from Boulder, Wyoming.
Gwenn started mushing in 2012 as a trainer in Alaska. Her dream to compete in the Iditarod was fulfilled in 2015. About 350 miles into the event she was on a 120 mile leg when the temperature reached -64F. “My dogs said they’d had enough, and I agreed.” Now, she and her husband David live in Boulder, Wyoming, and have a 24-dog kennel, Sage Huskies. Gwenn has also been a professional fly fishing instructor, and in 1997 cofounded Casting for Recovery (www.castingforrecovery.org), a breast cancer support group, based in Bozeman, Montana, that uses fly fishing for mental and physical healing. Gwenn and David live in a yurt with three wolfhounds, two border collies, and a wiener dog named Frank.
13 — Randy Dekuiper from Newbury, Michigan.
This is Randy’s first year to join the Stage Stop family, but it’s far from his first competition. In his over fifty year career, he raced the Iditarod in 1977, the Rondy, Open North American, Laconia, New Hampshire, not to mention numerous races from Ohio to Quebec. His resume includes experiences as a rodeo clown, bareback rider, race car driver, Eagle Scout, and, most challenging, grandfather to 13 youngsters. “The dogs are the driving force in keeping me healthy and motivated every day,” he writes. “I wouldn’t be able to stay active without the help of my wife of 23 years, and dog handler extraordinaries, Cris.” Randy’s interest in the Stage Stop was piqued after four years training on the same trails as Bruce Magnusson. “I am looking forward to the challenge!”
12 — Jake Robinson from Bemidji, Minnesota.
Jake is the proud owner of Robinson Racing Sled Dogs, a 36-dog racing kennel in beautiful Northern Minnesota that focuses on Open Class and 10-dog racing. He’s been active in racing for over 15 years, and has travelled from Quebec to British Columbia to the Arctic Circle and everywhere in between. The goal of Robinson Racing is to bring a top team of healthy, happy dogs to each and every race, and to positively promote the sport of dog mushing. In 2020 he won Rookie of the Year and top finishing American team honors at the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby, one of American’s oldest and most prestigious races.
11 — Elliot Rivest from St-Zénon, Québec, Canada.
Elliot is a student living in a family of mushers. Literally. “I was born into a musher family, so I never really ‘started’ in sled dogs but ‘dived’ into it,” he writes. “My first race was in Manitoba when I was six or seven years old. My summer job is to play with the dogs, and take care of them.” His first adult race was the 2018 Eagle Lake Sled Dog Races, a 30 mile event, where his father, mother, and brother all joined him. Last year he won the Pas World Championship junior race. Two years ago he took second place in the 2019 Eukanuba 8-Dog Classic which lit his competitive fire. “That’s the reason I’m here today.”
10 — Maria Torgerson from Red Lodge, Montana.
A second generation musher from Bozeman, Montana, Maria Torgerson started life as a baby in the sled and as a teen was still on the runners. After her dad, David Torgerson, retired, her love for the dogs’ passion pushed her to find a way back to mushing. Last year, the first time she competed in the Stage Stop Race, she finished a respectable fifth. “I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve received, specifically from the Streeper Kennel. It is truly inspirational to work along side these athletes both human and canine.”
9 — Rafael Nelson from Bend, Oregon.
(Driver substitution for Jerry Scdoris)
Rafael guides rafting trips on the Rogue River in the summer and sledding trips at Mt. Bachelor in the winter. Four years ago, he learned how to run dogs at the Scdoris kennel in Oregon. The race team has been having great training runs with ATVs through the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area this year. Rafael says “I’m excited to get (my team) out on the beautiful Wyoming trails and see what they can do,” adding that he’s “looking forward to reconnecting with some of the amazing dog people I met last year and seeing some new faces.”
8 — Lina Streeper from Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada.
Lina grew up in a small community in northern Sweden, and became fascinated with sled dogs at a young age. After moving to Canada in 2007, she focused on professional sled dog racing, and has become a part of “the famous mushing dynasty” known as Streeper Kennels. A noteworthy addition to her resume is last year’s first place in the Pas Manitoba World Championships. She and husband, Buddy Streeper, own and operate Streeper Kennels in Fort Nelson, British Columbia. They have two wonderful daughters, Alva and Clara. “I love dogs, and I love Wyoming. I’m proud to be returning to this year’s Stage Stop Race, and I wish all my Stage Stop family a safe and successful event!”
7 — JR Anderson from Buyck, Minnesota.
A native of Minnesota, JR Anderson has dedicated more than 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.
6 — Bruce Magnusson from Newberry, Michigan.
This will be Bruce’s sixteenth consecutive Stage Stop — more consecutive races than any other competitor in the 26-year history of our event — and his 18th year of mushing. Although Bruce grew up playing sports, he says that for him no other sport compares to the thrill of sled dog racing. On his race application, he wrote “this is my favorite race because of the format, the competitive field, and the camaraderie of the whole Stage Stop family. It gives me a perfect excuse to spend 8 days on the trail with my best friends.”
5 — Chris Adkins from Sand Coulee, Montana.
Chris Adkins is a lumber yard worker/dispatcher, and he and his wife, Shannon, operate a 49 dog kennel in Sand Coulee, Montana. He began running his dad’s dogs when he was four years old. Later, he took on one dog race, and then at 21 began his distance career with the Race to the Sky 500. He went on to compete in the Iditarod in 2010, same year as his first IPSSSDR. The Stage Stop has become the focal point of each season.