Bill Hastings

#5 Gwenn Bogart

5 — Gwenn Bogart from Boulder, Wyoming.

Age 64.

Gwenn began mushing in October 2012 working with various Iditarod mushers in her home of Wasilla/Willow, Alaska. Her only previous animal handling experience had been training horses and competing in three-day event and dressage. Gwenn’s desire to do the Iditarod consumed her fall and winter days, and she qualified for it by finishing two Copper Basin 300’s, Sheep Mountain 150, and the Northern Lights 300. After moving from Alaska to Boulder, Wyoming, she competed twice in the Eagle Cap Extreme 200, twice in West Yellowstone Rodeo Run, and once in the Big Horn Rush Classic. This will be Gwenn’s second Stage Stop.

#4 Thad McCracken

4 — Thad McCracken from Mosier, Oregon.

Age 48.

Thad is a software engineer in Portland who had no plans to get into mushing until his wife Colleen bought a rescue dog, Berny, who had excellent pulling abilities. Their first race, a skijor, resulted in a last place finish but totally hooked Thad and Colleen into the sport. In the thirteen or so years since that less than stellar beginning, Thad and his Mosier Misfits team have travelled all over North America making amazing friends along the way. This will be Thad’s second year at “the big race”. He raced the Eukanuba 8-Dog Classic twice, and, last year in his rookie run, finished the big race.

#3 Austin Forney

3 — Austin Forney from Leadville, Colorado.

Age 40.

Austin was born and raised on a cattle ranch in western Nebraska, and now lives and trains at 10,152 feet in Leadville, Colorado. Fourteen years ago, he switched from cattle and horses to sled dogs, and has been chasing his mushing dreams ever since. He, Rich and Ben, his veteran handlers, 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 huge thanks to his family and friends for their continued love and support. This marks Austin’s seventh consecutive year at the Stage Stop Race.

#2 Tim Thiessen

2 — Tim Thiessen from Leadville, Colorado.

Age 38.

Tim’s passion for dog sledding began in 2003 when he worked for a Breckenridge, Colorado dog sled tour company. He soon put together his own team and began competing in the local race circuit. Then he caught the “Stage Race Bug” in 2018. This will be Tim’s fourth Stage Stop. He and his partner, the extraordinaire Natalie, share their high-altitude homestead in the Mosquito Range of central Colorado with 24 dogs, two cats, and bunch of ducks and chicken. “I look forward to the challenges of training for this race, and I’m excited to take part in this esteemed event.”

#1 Bruce Magnusson

1 —Bruce Magnusson from Newberry, Michigan.

Age 58.

This will be Bruce’s seventeenth consecutive Stage Stop — more than any other competitor in the 27-year history of our event — and his 19th year of mushing. He now lives and trains in Newberry in the upper peninsula of Michigan. “The Stage Stop is always the primary focus of our race season, and I can’t imagine not being a part of this race and the Stage Stop family.”

#24 Ben Barrett

24  — Ben Barrett from Middlebury, Vermont.
Age 22.

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

23 — Ryan Beaber from Lily, Wisconsin.
Age 47.

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

22— Guy Girard from Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Canada P.Quebec.
Age 67.

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

21 — Érick Laforce from Lanoraie, Quebec, Canada.
Age 54.

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

20 — Doug Butler from Middlebury, Vermont.
Age 66.

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

19 — Ed Stielstra from McMillan, Michigan.
Age 51.

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

18 — Laura Neese from McMillan, Michigan.
Age 24.

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

17 — Diane Marquis from St Medard, Quebec, Canada.
Age 66.

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

16 —Thad Mccracken from Mosier, Oregon.
Age 47.

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

15 — Ken Chezik from Fife Lake, Michigan.
Age 61.

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

14 — Gwenn Bogart from Boulder, Wyoming.
Age 63.

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 (, 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

13 — Randy Dekuiper from Newbury, Michigan.
Age 73.

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

12 — Jake Robinson from Bemidji, Minnesota.
Age 29.

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

11 — Elliot Rivest from St-Zénon, Québec, Canada.
Age 16.

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

10 — Maria Torgerson from Red Lodge, Montana.
Age 18.

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.”