Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Desert Mush.(Outdoors & Recreation)

Byline: Story by Jane Mahoney For the Journal

Although New Mexico is an unlikely place for dog sledding, the sport has its proponents here

When musher Doug Swingley and his team of sled dogs crossed the snowy finish line of the famed Alaskan Iditarod last week, the end of the nine-day race had an impact even in faraway New Mexico.

The grueling 1,140-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome had been tracked with eager interest by New Mexicans ranging from local mushers to school kids.

Mushers in New Mexico? You bet.

Albuquerque is home to the Zia Sled Dog Club, a group of dog lovers and racers who are reluctantly bidding farewell to their own 2001 winter season. Southwestern New Mexico can even boast of being the current home of 1989 Iditarod winner Joe Runyan.

"We're sort of a novelty in this state," concedes Steve Estep, who owns a kennel of 14 Siberian huskies in the East Mountains area.

Estep likes nothing more than spending winter weekends competing in dog sled sprint races and being outdoors with his animals. During his treks to races in Colorado, he's likely to run into a few familiar faces, such as fellow racers Larry Carlton of Albuquerque or Leigh Manning of Tijeras. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.