It is the only 300-mile Yukon Quest qualifier in the lower 48 states and one of only three such events for the Iditarod qualifier in the lower 48.

That alone is probably enough to give it significant prestige. Add to that the caliber of the world-class mushers competing, and the race's reputation as one of the most grueling mushing competitions in the world, and you've got eight Montanans as part of some pretty lofty competition.

The McCall (Idaho) Winter Carnival will be back this year. The festivities include the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge in the west-central Mountains of Idaho, beginning January 29. The race is part of the Rocky Mountain Triple Crown, along with the Eagle Cap Extreme in Oregon and the Race to the Sky near Helena.

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge organizer, Dave Looney, gave an explanation as to why the race is one of the most grueling mushing competitions in the world: “Our elevation change is 36,000 feet, which is greater than the Iditarod. They call it a 500-mile race packed into 300 care and  pacing are really important...there’s a lot of up and down. One musher said the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge is like climbing Mt. Everest twice.”

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Well, who are we to argue all of that? What we want to do is extend our good luck wishes to the 8 Montanans who are competing in the race, most of which have ties to western Montana! Those competitors are:

Jessie Royer of Seeley Lake. Jessie with the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge in 2018 and in 2020.

Josi Thyr of Olney. Josi was the 2022 winner.

Clayton Perry of Power.

Erik Oline of Missoula.

Nicole Lombardi of Lincoln.

Seppa Francis of Seeley Lake.

And husband and wife Ryan and Jana Roberts of Stevensville.

May your dogs be at their best and mush on for Montana!

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