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Powell Butte resident Wes Rau finishes 15th in fourth stage of Atta Boy

by: TIM STUMM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - A team of dogs charge around a corner near the  40-mile mark of the fourth stage of the Atta Boy 300 sled dog race.  The stage started and ended at Walton Sno-Park.  The team of dogs are owned by Powell Butte resident Wes Rau.

Wes Rau has competed at a number of different venues throughout his ten-year mushing career.
   Wednesday, he raced in front of a home crowd.
   With community members and fans cheering him on, Rau charged to a respectable 15th place finish in the fourth stage of the Atta Boy 300 World Sled Dog Championships near Walton Lake.
   The finish dropped him even further from the leader board, but the Powell Butte resident, who works full-time as a physical therapist, seemed happy just taking in the view.
   "It was absolutely stunning today. The top of the mountain was blowing, drifting over the trail. It was really beautiful," he said. "This is actually my favorite trail of the whole race, it's just beautiful out there."
   Melanie Shrilla, a 32-year old musher from Lincoln, Mont. claimed the stage four crown with a time of 3:57:06 while Hernan Maquieira of Argentina was second at 4:08:50.
   With his finish Maquieira was able to overtake Buddy Streeper, last year's Atta Boy champion, in the overall standings.
   Alfalfa resident Rachael Scdoris struggled on the 47.3-mile course taking 19th at 5:03:20.
   "I don't know [what happened]. Yesterday we were charging up the hills, beating everybody and today we kind of plugged up them," she said. "I just have to put this behind me. I guess if this is the worst day I have this week, it will be a pretty good week."
   The loop starts and ends at Walton Sno-Park and peaks at Pigsah Mountain Lookout at 6,700 feet. Voted last year's favorite stage by the competing mushers, the track combines numerous ups and downs with stunning views.
   "It's just an incredibly beautiful trail," said race director Jerry Scdoris. "It's up and down all the way. Unbelievable vista points up in the mountains. It's just got everything."
   The course is managed by Ochoco Sno Sports who stock each of the different checkpoints with volunteers.
   checkpoints with volunteers.
   "There's eight checkpoints out there and everyone of them has a fire and food," said Scdoris. "If anything went wrong, a musher would be well taken care of, like being home with their parents almost."
   Jerry added that the day's event, which relies heavily on community support, was a complete success.
   "It is a blue bird day in the Ochoco mountains. The trail was so perfect out there and the community was so wonderful," he said. "It was just a celebration of the outdoors and winter in the Ochocos."
   Rau took 17th on Thursday and continues to slip down the ranks. He, however, seemed content with the situation as he elaborated on what first got him into the sport a decade ago.
   "It encompasses everything I like to do. The outdoors, animals, competition. And I like being out in the woods for hours. So this is what you get to do. It's got it all," he said. "And you are around really nice people. These are the best people in the world."