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By Andi Bourne

Etnire Faces Tough Competition


Roger Dey, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch

Seeley Lake's Roy Etnire starting the 100-mile Race to the Sky in Lincoln Saturday, Feb. 13. His handler Roberta Reiley rode for the first two miles to help control the sled since their was very little snow at the start of the race.

SEELEY LAKE - Seeley Lake musher Roy Etnire missed fourth place by a nose in this year's 100-mile Race to the Sky. Etnire finished one second behind Rick Larson from Sand Coulee, Mont. riding into Seeley Lake at 7:18 a.m. Sunday morning. Etnire was impressed with how good the trails were and was very pleased with the high caliber of dog teams and mushers out for this year's race.

This was Etnire's fourth 100-mile Race to the Sky. His first two years he finished in first place and last year finished in seventh after losing one of his wheel dogs, Merlin.

It was a muddy, slow start in Lincoln Saturday, Feb. 13 for the six 300-mile and nine 100-mile mushers. Snow was hauled in for the start and mushers carried their handlers for the first two miles to help control their sleds.

"It was a really rough start in Lincoln through the sagebrush," said Etnire who has run his dogs in sagebrush before and didn't find it as challenging as other mushers.

Etnire's handler Roberta Reiley added that the ride was "bumpy and slushy with a lot of dry ground and sagebrush."

Etnire was pleased with the trail conditions despite the warm weather saying he thought they were the best they have been for the past eight or nine years. He said that the dogs faced water, ice, slush and gravel but new snow early Sunday morning helped things out.

Etnire arrived at the White Tail Ranch 13 minutes ahead of Larson for his mandatory six-hour layover. When Etnire left at 2:20 a.m. Sunday morning, he said it was snowing restricting visibility to less than 50 feet.

There was some concern prior to the race about the area being logged on the Cottonwood Lakes Road. The road was being plowed so logging traffic could transport.

Etnire said, "It looked beautiful. You couldn't tell they have been logging except for the signs." Etnire was thankful to the US Forest Service and Buck Creek Forestry for their good work and for being willing to accommodate the race through the area this weekend as well as on Monday for the 300-mile racers to finish in Lincoln.

The last five miles to the finish, Etnire was following Larson. Because this is his home trail and the dogs knew they were going to be home, he waited until the last opportunity to pass.

"I knew if I passed too soon, Larson would just pass me again," said Etnire.

When he gave the call to pass one of his lead dogs, Sydney hesitated. Larson's lead dogs crossed the finish line about two feet ahead of Etnire's.

Roger Dey, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch

Etnire hooking up his team prior to the 100-mile Race to the Sky start in Lincoln, Feb. 13.

"I've never had that close of a run and I probably never will again," said Etnire. "This is the strongest 100-mile field that I've seen for the Race to the Sky. Everybody performed well and had a good time. It was a good race."

Mushers from Canada, Sweden, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Colorado participated in the 100-mile. Jenny Greger of Bozeman, Mont. won the race finishing at 6:20 a.m. with Laura Daugereau of Kingston, Wash. finishing one second behind her for second.

None of the mushers for the 100-mile race had to drop a dog from the race. The veterinarians were very pleased since heat, soft snow and hydration were all challenges the dogs and mushers faced.

For more information about Race to the Sky and for the complete results including the 300-mile race visit


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