LINCOLN — A musher with aspirations of competing in Alaska’s Iditarod followed one of that marathon sled dog race’s most seasoned veterans across the finish line late Monday at the Montana Race to the Sky.
Utah’s Dylan Harris, 27, finished the 300-mile race at 9:51 p.m., about 2½ hours behind Jessie Royer, who won the race for a record fourth time. No one else in the 33-year history of Race to the Sky has captured the featured race more than twice.
Royer, 41, is a perennial challenger at the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in March with two top-five finishes. This year she listed her home base as Tabiona, Utah, the same as Harris. Tabiona is a small town of about 170 people tucked into the foothills of the Wasatch Range 75 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
Harris ran his first sled dog race in 2000 at the Wyoming Stage Stop. He ran the Canadian Open Sled Dog Race in 2014.
Third place in the 300-miler went to the 2017 champion, Laurie Warren of Council, Idaho, who finished at 10:26 p.m. Brett Bruggeman of Great Falls was fourth at 11:36 p.m., followed early Tuesday by Damon Ramaker of Fountain, Minnesota; Cindy Gallea of Wykoff, Minnesota, and Miriam Osredkar of Fairfield.
Two Idaho mushers scratched their teams from the 300 race: Josi Thyr of Cataldo and Rick Katucki of Eagle.
Early Sunday, Rick Larsen of Belt captured the adult 100 near Seeley Lake for the second year in a row. Larsen was the long race champion in 2010, when it was 350 miles.
He was followed across the line by Clayton Perry of Power, while Trevor Warren of Council, Idaho, took third. Spencer Bruggeman of Great Falls was fourth, followed by Skyler Olsen and Madeline Rubida, both of Tabiona; former two-time champion Roy Etnire of Seeley Lake; Rex Mumford of Huntsville, Utah, and Matt Hamel of Seattle.
Christina Gibson, 17, of Carlton, Washington, was the lone Junior 100 finisher after Polson’s Charmayne Morrison scratched her team about 25 miles from the finish. Steve Madsen of Cougar, Washington, scratched from the Adult 100.
Royer finished the 300 with 10 dogs and was presented the Best Cared for Team Award on Tuesday at an awards ceremony in Lincoln. Her handler, Jeff Pace, received the sportsmanship award for helping other teams.
Perry received the Best Cared For Team Award in the 100-mile race from head veterinarian Kathy Topham. Race marshal Rob Greger presented the sportsmanship award to Etnire, for his assistance in trail coordination and helping other mushers.