Introducing Pedigree Stage Stop Musher Rafael Nelson

Hello Pedigree Stage Stop Race Fans.

Those of you who followed the 2020 race do not need and introduction for Rafael Nelson. His big smile through his Rookie year was pretty hard to miss. He ran a nice race, gaining more confidence with each Stage. I do not know who ran more, himself or the dogs? He is driving dogs for Jerry Scdoris of Oregon Trail of Dreams, where they offer Dog Sled Tours at Mt Bachelor.

2 years in a row Rafael has been fortunate to be the designated driver short notice. 2 years in a row his mentor Jerry has been unfortunate to get injured close to race time; pulling a calf muscle this year. We wish you speedy recovery Jerry.

Here in Rafael Nelson’s own words:

Hey Sebastian, excited to be back. This is my 2nd time running the Stage Stop. My best and only finish is 10th place. I am running it because I love mountains, I love dogs, and I love running. Plus it would be a  shame if this dog team didn’t get to compete after all the training they’ve done.

My favorite stage was Stage 2 because I was first across the finish line. While that doesn’t actually mean anything for your place in that stage it’s still a lot of fun to roll in to the finish ahead of everyone else.

I have no personal familiarity with the “old stage stop” but it sounds like quite an adventure. Personally I am quite alright with sleeping in a bed every night. Given how much I try to be off the runners I don’t know if my legs would survive any longer distances. The Stage Stop is the only race for me hahaha.

We started fall training with about 30 dogs in the running to make the team and slowly whittled it down. We just made our final two cuts yesterday. There are two main components to our training. ATV rides and the hot walker. Our dogs have done several 30+ mile runs on the ATV, with a longest run of 38. They have also done many 3+ hour runs in the hot walker.

Our dogs spend very little time training on snow because there is rarely snow on the ground where they live out in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area. They do run tours on snow up at Mt. Bachelor for us 1-2 days a week. We have 12 of the same dogs from last year with a couple of the older competitors retiring and a couple 3 year olds taking over. 8 of our 14 dogs are from the same litter and are 4 years old. The age range of our team is 2-6 years old. There are 10 dogs in the team that I would trust in lead if needed. Plan A is to only use 4: Frost, Tolstoy, Ute, and Cinders. We have 11 males and 3 females with a mix of intact and fixed dogs.

Most of the dogs’ calories comes from chicken. We thaw it in water and mix it up into a stew with oil and Black Gold dog food added in. They also get chunks of beef fat.

My goal is to get the finish line of stage 7 with happy, healthy dogs. There are quite a few new teams I don’t know anything about. I’d love to beat as many of them as possible but I figure the best way to do that is focusing on my dogs and what they want to do.

I plan on feeling a lot less overwhelmed than last year and thus having more fun!

Having fun is what the Pedigree Stage Stop Race is all about, for dogs and mushers alike. The scenery is second to none. Enjoy the ride Rafael, keep running! Top 10 in your first race was a pretty good showing. Can’t wait to see how you will do this year! For those of you who want to read even a little more about Rafael, here is a link to a great article with Alpine Outfitters, one of their great sponsors: