Sled Dog Racing: Eagle Cap Extreme Part 3
JOSEPH, OR —
Over the past couple days, we've told stories of mushers and their sled dogs who battle the elements and long distances to cross the finish line. We've told the story of James Pilcher, a rookie musher, and Brett Bruggeman, an Iditarod hopeful. But there was one more musher at this year's Eagle Cap Extreme outside of Joseph, Oregon that's taken canines all around the world.
Miriam Osredkar is one of the most experienced mushers in this year's group at Eagle Cap Extreme. The word extreme describes Miriam's racing career perfectly. That's because she's been to some of the most extreme climates around the world behind just a sled and her dogs.
"This is my inaugural run of the Eagle Cap 200. Never run the race,” says Miriam.
She’s a rookie in terms of Eagle Cap Extreme. But she's no yearling.
"I've run trails all over Alaska, even in Russia, but I've never run any in Oregon. This is kind of exciting for me, and I love running in the mountains."
Here in the Wallowa mountains, Miriam feels at home. She's raced thousands of miles across the great stretching Alaskan wilderness, including races most can only dream of qualifying for.
"I did the Serum Run, which is the trip that Balto took to deliver the diphtheria serum in 1925, so we commemorated the 90th anniversary of that. And then the following year I got to race in the Iditarod."
The Iditarod: the greatest race in all of sled dog racing. Miriam completed the thousand-mile race in 2016. She finished in 56th place with a time of just around 11 and a half days, three days behind the winner. Winning was never Miriam's top priority—just the feeling of crossing the finish line.
"Surreal. You come into Noma and it's like this little tiny village on the Bering Sea, and there's sirens going off cause they're basically saying mushers coming into town. The dogs are just jazzed up because they hear everything going on.”
From Alaska, over the Bering Sea into Siberia, Russia, where Miriam's dogs have laid their paw prints in the snow and ice.
"Here you see people who are closer to their roots, and use their dogs for hunting, are dressed in reindeer skin clothing. It was like going back in time 100 years."
Even though Miriam is the most experienced musher in this year's Eagle Cap Extreme group, she's very wise to know that she still has a lot to learn.
"Every race you learn something from somebody, whether it's everybody's got a different way of doing stuff. I think thinking you think you know it all does a disservice to you and your dogs."
Miriam says she'll stay on her sled as long as she can, all for one reason.
"The camaraderie, whether it's a camaraderie between you and the dogs, you and the other mushers. When you see them start to spark and start to shine, that's really rewarding for me at least, as a musher."
Miriam showed the rest of this year's Eagle Cap Extreme field just how dominant she can actually be. She finished in first place with a time of 32 hours and 44 minutes.