Female mushers win WolfTrack Classic races
by Parker Loew
The 15th Annual Wolftrack Classic concluded with Heather O’Brien winning the 50-mile eight-dog race and Ashley Thaemert winning the 30-mile six-dog race for the second year in a row.
In the eight-dog race, Heather O’Brien’s winning time was 4:20:18. In second place was Rita Wehseler with a time of 4:24:36. In third place came Brian Bergen with a time of 4:31:47.
In the six-dog race, Ashley Thaemert’s winning time was 2:11:48. Erin Schouweiler finished second with a time of 2:12:56. In third place was Clayton Scheider with a time of 2:15:52.
Thaemert shaved twelve minutes off her winning time from last year and was very happy with how her team performed.
“The dogs exceeded my expectations,” Thaemert said. “I was hoping for a clean run, and that’s what they gave me.”
While the weather report for the morning of the race forecasted temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees, actual temperatures during the race were around five to 15 degrees, to the delight of mushers and their dogs.
“I was expecting it to be warmer honestly, so it’s nice it stayed cool. It was a very fast and fun trail,” Thaemert said.
While all teams hoped to win, many also had other motivations for racing in this year’s Wolftrack Classic.
“Everybody tries to win, but having fun is the main thing we are here for. Winning would be a bonus though,” said musher Steve Goedken the day before the race.
Goedken, who placed fourth in the six-dog race, has been competing in the Wolftrack Classic for around six years. The Wolftrack has a special place in his heart.
“This was actually the first race I ever watched before I got into mushing,” he said. “When I left that day after the race, I told a couple of mushers I’ll be back next year with my team, and I was.”
Musher Hannah Schott’s motivations for coming to this year’s Wolftrack Classic involved one of her beloved team members.
“I have an older girl, and it’s likely going to be her last race,” Schott said. “She is getting up there in age. We just want her to have a nice fun run for her last race.”
Schott started mushing in 2018. This was her second time at the Wolftrack Classic.
Many mushers, including 25-year veteran musher Tom Clark, had goals that the weather and fast course helped them achieve.
“My expectations were to be under three hours, and we were!” Clark said.
One aspect of dogsled racing obvious for all to see at the Wolftrack Classic was how much the mushers care for their dogs, often to the extreme.
For example, Goedken brought a custom trailer he built so he could sleep with his dogs at competitions.
Goedken said he is more comfortable staying in the trailer with the dogs than in a hotel. He also sleeps with his dogs in the trailer frequently during the summer while training and stated how their bond grows even stronger in the summer.
Another aspect of dogsled racing displayed at the Wolftrack Classic is how much the sled dogs love to run.
Watching the anticipation and excitement grow on the dog’s faces as they get ready to start the race gives testimony to their nature.
This is what they live for.