Introducing Pedigree® Stage Stop Race Musher Linda Pierce
by Sebastian Schnuelle
Hello Race Fans,
Another Musher who I was able to catch up with, is Linda Pierce from Washington. Calling mushers is definitely a hit and miss, being in a completely different time zone in Germany right now. To reach someone in the evening, US time, would mean 3 a.m. ish in Germany. I have not convinced myself yet to do that. So I am catching them sometimes mid run, dogs barking and a conversation next to impossible. Or like in Linda´s case when I asked her ” Is now a good time to talk ? ” Her response was classic typical Musher: ” If you do not mind walking with me to the poop pile “.
Many mushers have interesting stories how they got started in dogs. And a common theme is: ” I only wanted 1 or 2 dogs “. In Linda´s case she wanted 2 Skijor dogs. Something magically happened after that and she just added another 2 to the equation…. now 22 are in her backyard. Sounds familiar. In my case it all started with a grumpy stray I named ” Blue ” ( after Labatts Blue beer ).
Linda, same a Fernando Ramirez, first ran the 8 dog class in Wyoming. She came in 3rd in that race 2 years ago. It must have been ” such a horrible experience ” that the last year she entered the full Pedigree® Stage Stop Race for the first time. I guess Linda got the bug, as she is back. When I asked her why she is running, she was quick to point out the beautiful scenery, the well run organization but also another fact: ” Because I can. This is a young person sport, and I am not getting any younger “.
A race like the Pedigree® Stage Stop Race can not be done alone. A good handler, truck driver, poop scooper, massage therapist, truck mechanic…. is a must. Last year she had a friend come along, this year she recruited 2 friends to help, one all the way from Alaska.
Dogs… the most important and most fun part of racing: Linda is training 11 of her own dogs and 3 dogs she is borrowing from Martin Koenig. Her team is comprised of older dogs aged 4 to 8. That will make for a less speedy team, yet she will have a blast on the beautiful Wyoming trails. Martin Koenig’s place is where Linda has been training since Christmas. That is also when she switched from the ATV to sled. Each fall that day is much anticipated. Fall training did not go smoothly for Linda, having had a bit of a crash on Dec 1st, hurting her hand and setting training back by about 3 weeks. Nothing unusual in mushing. Back before my 2004 Yukon Quest I crashed hard on my ATV, broken collar bone and ribs. Definitely set me back in training too, still finished the Quest 3 month later.
Linda is lucky to have good mentors. Not only is Martin Koenig hosting her ( staying in her own living quarter horse trailer ), Martin gives her lot’s of guidance as well as going out to groom the trail. And trail work is important. Specially after unforeseen weather events. The weather threw another wrench into training at New Years with pouring rain. And then someone drove a truck over the access trail creating a huge mess. Luckily Martin had gone out on a Snowmachine ahead of Linda. There were trees down, deep ruts, mud. Martin said: ” I could have heard you scream at the house, had I not gone out ahead of you “.
Linda is aiming to run a 2 days on, 1 day off schedule. Her leaders are Cowboy and Moody ( I hope he does not act his name ) and both are 8. Two other leaders in training are Ron and Nevel, both 3 year olds. With only training a total of 14 dogs, half females, half males, she has to scoop a lot less poop than some other mushers. Feeding is a big part of racing and Linda is feeding some of the best food out there with Caribou Creek Gold dry food and raw meat from Northwest Farm foods in Washington.
Linda’s goal is to finish the race and to have fun. In the past she has run the Snowdog Super Mush, the Priest Lake Sled Dog Races as well as the Darby Dog Derby, which she plans on going to this year also. Once Linda’s ” big race ” is over she plans to take her team on spring camping trips. Spring camping trips are the best! And there is already talk of next year. In 2021 her pups out of Kate and Cowboy are old enough to race: ” I am running this year to keep my spot. With running the the Pedigree Stage Stop Race I am getting a whole season of racing in one event”. She is hoping for nice weather like last year and no 40 mile an hour cross winds. See you in Jackson Linda, safe travels!