Driggs hosts largest sled dog race outside Alaska

    The 31 and a half mile race takes about three hours, depending on snow conditions. (City of Driggs photo)

    DRIGGS, Idaho—The second stage of the seven-stage Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race, the country’s largest sled dog race outside of Alaska, will be held in Driggs on Jan. 28.

    This is the third year that Driggs has hosted the event that benefits the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter with the race itself donating about $1,200 to the shelter. Pedigree donates a year’s supply of food to the organization.

    Pedigree produces a product line of dog foods and treats.

    There is always excitement at the starting line as the dogs get ready to do what they do best. (City of Driggs photo)

    Spectator shuttles will run every half hour from the city center to the start/finish line starting at 8 a.m. Watching the race start and finish is quite the scene according to Driggs Community Development Director, Doug Self.

    “It’s a pretty exciting scene when the teams leave the starting line and then at the finish line when the dogs and mushers come charging down the hill,” Self said. “It’s controlled mayhem.”

    The race starts at 9 a.m. at the west end of Packsaddle Road with 28 mushers leaving at three-minute intervals.

    Dan Carter is the race director and a participant. He said the race is an out and back course where the mushers loop back to the start/finish line. “It’s thirty-one-and-a-half-mile race that takes about three hours depending on trail conditions,” he said.

    It usually takes about an hour and a half to get all the dogs running and then there is an hour or so before the first dogs return. In the interim, the crowd will mingle with the dog handlers or go sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, according to Self. “There is plenty to do while the dogs are running, if you like snow.”

    With the Teton Mountains in the background, a musher and his team charge up a hill in the second stage of the seven-stage race. (City of Driggs photo)

    The event is a wintertime boost to the Driggs economy with more than a hundred people involved – mushers, handlers, and the race crew. They need fuel, food, lodging, and supplies with many mushers staying with local families who have volunteered their homes.

    Self expects one hundred or more spectators as well.

    Once the race is over, and all the dogs have been tended to there is a meet-and-greet at the community plaza from 2:30 to 4 p.m. with the dogs and mushers mingling with the community.