Former Fur Rondy mushing champion Buddy Streeper is in the lead on the fifth day of the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race in Wyoming. Streeper completed Wednesday's stage in Big Piney, Wyo. with a cumulative time of 13 hours, 20 minutes, 53 seconds, almost half an hour ahead of his closest challenger, John Stewart of Scotland.
Stewart, who has trained with Rondy champion Egil Ellis and Iditarod winner Doug Swingley, participated in the 2010 Iditarod race as a rookie only to scratch in White Mountain, a heartbreaking 77 miles from the finish line in Nome.
Also participating in the Wyoming race is Alaska's Ryan Redington, who was ninth in a field of 16 at the end of racing Wednesday.
The Stage Stop mushers have encountered brutal weather, with high winds, blowing snow and near-whiteout conditions. Big Piney -- which locals proudly call "the Ice Box of the Nation" -- is located at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level. Racers faced a starting temperature of minus 22 and strongs winds on Wednesday, race director Dan Carter told the Daily News.
Daytime temperatures along the Yukon River at the Alaska-Canada border, where the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest race is underway, have included readings of 3 degrees in Eagle and minus 17 in Dawson, with little wind and temperatures around 0 forecast for Thursday.
The Wyoming race is done in a series of stages, with mushers going between 44 and 56 miles at a time during daylight hours and stopping at night. The Quest is a continuous event, with the field of mushers moving around the clock until the finish.
Streeper will return to the Rondy race in Anchorage after not participating for the past two years. The three-day Rondy race begins Feb. 21.
Reach Mike Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4332.
By MIKE DUNHAM