Sled Dog Racing: Eagle Cap Extreme Part 2
JOSEPH, OR —
The sport of sled dog racing is one of the most physically grueling in the world. Last night we began our three-part series Sled Dog Racing: Eagle Cap Extreme. We told the story of a musher who just a few weeks ago raced in his first ever sled dog race. But the race in northeast Oregon isn't just made up of a field of rookies. It also has a field of mushers with massive dreams.
Brett Bruggeman has raced in Eagle Cap Extreme every year since 2014. He's won the event twice, but now he's set his sights north to a much higher regarded, and more dangerous goal—the Iditarod.
Every musher has a goal in mind for every race. For Eagle Cap Extreme near Joseph, Oregon, Brett Bruggeman's is simple.
"Mostly just sharpen your skills, sharpen your camping skills with the dogs. That's real important. Every race you learn something new about the dogs, and how to care for them,” says Bruggeman.
In this race, he'll take the lessons he learns here with him to the frozen Alaskan landscape.
“I'm going for my rookie year at the Iditarod. This race is in preparation for that."
Brett knows Eagle Cap Extreme is one of the most difficult because of the drastic elevation changes within the 200-mile race. But compare that distance to the fierce tundra up north.
"It's 1,000 miles, and anything can happen in 1,000 miles."
The farthest Brett's run with the dogs is 350 miles. That's why he's trying to learn what cues to watch with the dogs to get to know them and their needs.
“If they're ok going at that speed, or if they need to slow down, or if they need a break now, or if they don't. Just kind of subtle cues like that."
He's been training almost every day since mid-September to prepare for the Iditarod on March 3rd. And like every other race, he only has one goal.
“Alaska? To finish. No goals beyond that."
Brett Bruggeman knows it will be the most difficult stretch he's ever raced. The Iditarod trail can leave you out in the middle of nowhere for days, sometimes not seeing a thing other than snow covered slopes for hundreds of miles. He admits he's nervous, but nerves won't affect his chase for greatness.
“I think once I get on the trail that nervousness will go away, but one friend told me, and she's ran the Iditarod several times, and she said, 'If you can get to the Iditarod, you can finish the Iditarod.' The hardest part's getting there."
Even though Brett was using this year's Eagle Cap Extreme to just prepare for the Iditarod, he actually finished in second place, just a few minutes out of first. Speaking of first place, we'll have her story tomorrow at 6, and she has some pretty big ties to the Iditarod as well.