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as told by Steve Madsen, Winner 2011 ECX 200 Mile Race

steve_madson-1In January of 2011, I got to compete in the Eagle Cap Extreme against two teams fielded by the kennel of Karen Ramstead of British Columbia, Canada. With a field of only three teams, the 2011 Eagle Cap probably didn’t represent the very best of the hundred or so elite distance racing teams outside of Alaska. Nevertheless, it did set up to be a classic duel of evenly-matched teams which would ultimately run only minutes apart over 200 miles of the most challenging terrain in the Pacific Northwest. This was to be a race in the classic sense which would tap the considerable skills of its mushers and seemingly bottomless endurance of its canine competitors. Every moment in the lead was a moment that would have to be earned.

Joseph, Oregon's Eagle Cap Extreme:

A Community Love Affair

Story by Rose Hansen, images by Benjamin Krause.

Mushing magazine mar apr 2011Bino Fowler feels something burning in his boot. A rock? A wood shaving? He tries to ignore it, focuses on the tug, on Cash, Emmy Lou Harris, June Carter – the dogs of his country legends litter. He considers his competitors, all ahead of him. He's the caboose. He worries about temperature – a warm 34 degrees. He thinks about the trail – Gumboot Butte and Big Sheep Basin and Tamarack Mountain. He admires the snow's glimmering, scalloping waves, but dammit – something's burning in his boot. Maybe it's just bad luck. Maybe it's fate. He doesn't have time for that. There's a race going on, and he's only five miles in.