“Tupac will not be running,” Alix Crittenden said about her 2-year-old sled dog. “He just wasn’t the most focused.”
Unharnessing her pup after a morning workout up the Granite Creek trail in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on Thursday, Crittenden declared the youngster not quite ready to join a pool of 14 that she will run in the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race that begins in Jackson today.
The ceremonial start and two-mile dash takes place at 6:30 p.m. on the Jackson Town Square.
Crittenden, who’s run the seven-day race about six times and finished as high as third, will harness 10 dogs a day on each of the approximately 30-mile legs. They’ll visit Moran, Lander, Pinedale, Big Piney/Marbleton, Kemmerer and Alpine before finishing up in Driggs, Idaho on Feb. 4.
Juniper, Leah, Hodges and Ada are the leaders who will guide Crittenden and her team across the western Wyoming landscape. Others in the kennel include a dance hall full of rappers — Biggie, Dre, 50 Cent and, yes, Snoop.
All the athletes come from Frank Teasley’s Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours racing team based at Granite Creek. Crittenden runs the kennel and race team for Teasley’s tourism business, splitting her time between that operation and Sleeping Indian Outfitters, which she operates with her husband Sam just over the river and through the woods in Bondurant.
“The main goal is having happy, healthy dogs every day,” Crittenden said. “We never ask them to do more than they’re capable of.
“I hope to have good clean runs and enjoy my time out there with my dogs and hope they enjoy it as much as I do,” she said.
The stage stop is designed to allow community engagement and dozens of people show up at the starting lines to watch the teams take off. For schedule details, see the race website.This year Tupac will have to just dream of becoming the next Togo or Balto. Perhaps next year he’ll be focused enough to run with the big dogs.