Jack Beckstrom

A Legend – Race to the Sky Sled Dog Race

A small group of sled dog enthusiasts got together in the fall of 1985 and formulated a plan to bring distance sled dog racing to Montana.  This first race, the Montana Governor’s Cup 500 Sled Dog Race, took place in February 1986 and ran from Helena to Lincoln, Ovando, Seeley Lake, Condon and back to Helena, making it the first 500 mile continuous sled dog race in Montana. 

Jack Beckstrom was one of the original founders of Race to the Sky.  It was his vision in the very beginning and for the next 34 years, he worked tirelessly to make sure this race thrived, attracting dog mushers from all over the lower 48, Canada and Alaska.  The race changed its name to Race to the Sky in 1990 showing the elevation climbs  …  almost to the sky, the mountains and great scenery.

Beckstrom Running Race to the Sky 1988

He competed in the 500 mile race multiple times.  Beckstrom was on the Board of Directors, a race marshal numerous times, treasurer, speaker for every Race to the Sky Dog Mushing Symposium and supported it financially as a sponsor every year of the race. 

Race to the Sky has always been an Iditarod qualifier even though distances have changed over the years from 500 miles to 350 miles to currently 300. 

Two 100 mile races were added including a junior race.  It is a challenging race but one Beckstrom was always proud to be part of.  He loved sled dogs, dog mushing and teaching mushers about proper nutrition and training for their sled dogs.

Having good dog care was very important to Beckstrom during his mushing career.  The race has designated that each year, the Best Cared for Team Award for the Race to the Sky will to be given in his honor for both the 100 mile and 300 mile races.

Race to the Sky is a Montana tradition and one that families love to be part of each February.  The dogs are the heart of this race, the volunteers are the hands of the race but Jack Beckstrom was most definitely the soul of Race to the Sky.