The San Juan Mountains were inundated with man's furry, four legged friends last weekend as San Juan Stage Racing returned to the area with the Mancos Mush and Silverton Slush sled dog races. Mushers from across the country and Canada came to compete in two races of three stages each. The long course was an exhausting 125 miles while the short course was a competitive 85 miles. The first two days of competition were held in Mancos before the event moved up in altitude to Silverton on Sunday. A biting cold blanketed the start area as racers began to get their dogs and sleds ready for the day. The sun slowly rose and thawed the racers before the competition began. Canadian Grant Beck took first place in the 125-mile race, finishing in 6:21:30 and taking home $2,175 in earnings. Clint Hallam, of Lyman, Wyo., won the short race finishing 4:49:38 and taking home $1,400 in prize money.

A musher gets his sled prepped Sunday morning before the race
got under way in Silverton. A team of sled dogs gets into a rhythm as the sun slowly creeps
onto the race course in Silverton. Irvin Perry gets ready to release his sled dogs across the start
line at the Silverton leg of the race. Koyuk howls in the chilly mountain air prior to the beginning of
the race on Sunday. A musher cruises up the valley north of Silverton early
Sunday. A musher cruises toward the finish line of the Silverton
Slush Fred Canfield helps hold a sled for a musher as the racer gets
ready to start the day's competition.