While the race for the win seems set, there is still one stage left to run. The notorious Driggs stage which will feature the most severe climbs in this years race. The race is essentially 7 miles straight up a mountain, 7 miles straight down, a tear drop loop, and do the inverse. There have been major gains made in the last day of this race and I wound not be surprised to see some changes in overall positions throughout the field.
Anny Malo put her best food forward today running a full deck for the first time this year, but was not able to hold off the Coste Comet who left the line with 9 dogs and caught and passed her before the loop. Malo regained some time and re-passed Coste as he loaded a dog, but Coste won the lap and added another cushion of time to his overall lead.
Coste is running a race and pace that is unforeseen in this type of racing. What defies the imaginations of mushers and fans across the world is the seemingly constant loading of dogs. It’s hard to fathom that it’s intentional, but having occurred every stage except day 1, it’s been shockingly frequent. Coste has to simply hold on at this point and finish the climb home tomorrow before letting gravity take over for the descent back to the trucks. All signs indicate that we will be our 2024 champion. Malo has put on an amazing show and we have truly gotten to see a weeks worth of mushing at the highest level.
Jess Moore put the pedal down and blitzed for a third place day finish and is less than a minute out of third in the overall. She will be racing hard and using everything she knows about this race and her dog team to put in a bid for the podium tomorrow. Sarah Tarlton over took Michael Tetzner in the overall after a really nice run and is continuing to get stronger! Cathy Rivest continues to hold a margin over Rachel Courtney, but any can happen in Driggs and it has.
Speaking from experience, every musher, handler, and official is exhausted and ready for a break. The actual running of the race each day is one of the easier and more straightforward parts of this event. The daily travel, banquets, logistics, maintenance, etc. on top of the hours of care that is required to keep a racing dog team in peak condition for over a week is the tough part. These mushers have been living and breathing this race for months, and while they’re likely ready for some sleep, there is an all too familiar feeling of “well… now what?” as this race comes to a close.
I’m off to run my own dogs now that enough snow and ice has melted to train on the quad in preparation for meeting you with my compatriots and competitors in a few short days. Spread the word and follow the Pedigree Stage Stop Race!