- The Iditarod Re-starts in Willow Alaska, Sunday, March 4th (2 pm)
- As of February 16, 2012 there are 66 mushers signed up for the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, including 52 veterans, 14 rookies and 16 women. To date eight mushers have withdrawn for various reasons. Entrants hail from 5 states – Colorado, Illinois, Idaho and Washington, as well as from Alaska and from 4 countries – United States, Canada, Norway and New Zealand. The record number of mushers starting the race was 96 in 2008.
- This year’s race slogan is: 40th Race on 100 Year Old Trail – The 2012 Iditarod marks the 40th running of the dogsled race on the century old gold trail between Seward and Nome now known as the Iditarod. (See more information about this topic under 40th Race on 100 Year Old Trail in this guide on page 16.)
- The team’s average 15 dogs, which means over 1,000 dogs will leave the starting line this year. Each musher can start with a maximum of 16 dogs down to a minimum of 12 dogs
- Six Iditarod champions will be attempting to regain the title. Many of the past champions from other long distance races are also racing including Yukon Quest champions, Kusko 300 champions and Beargrease champions.
- The race crosses two mountain ranges (including North America’s largest mountain range, Alaska Range)
- The trails meets up with the Yukon River at Ruby and reaches frozen Norton Sound at Unalakleet.
- The route alternates every year. This year’s route, the Northern Route, will run from Ophir through Cripple, Ruby, Galena, and Nulato before meeting up with the Southern Route trail in Kaltag.
- There are twenty-four checkpoints (counting Anchorage & Nome), three of which are uninhabited during the rest of the year.
- There are seven teams signed-up for the 2012 Iditarod that have also signed up for the 2012 Yukon Quest – Kristi Berington, Jake Berkowitz, Trent Herbst, Sonny Linder, Lance Mackey, Huff Neff, and Brent Sass.
- The 2012 Idita-Riders represent 22 states and raised $155,000.
- Volunteers are an integral part of the Iditarod. As of February 8th, 2012 there were 718 volunteers registered representing 46 states and America Samoa. This number does not include those who volunteer in communities along the trail or in Nome. The number of volunteers will continue to grow over the weeks to come and by the end of Iditarod 2012 there will be over 1,500 volunteers involved in some way or another. This number equates to over 35,000 volunteer hours.
- In 2012 there are a total of 52 veterinarians – 3 for dropped dogs in Anchorage, 2 for dropped dogs in both McGrath and Unalakleet, 42 veterinarians dispersed along the trail and 3 consultants.
Even the old dogs can teach a thing or two to the pups. No, I am not talking about sled dogs here. I am talking about the mushers. 71 year old Jim Lanier just won the GCI Dorothy Page Halfway Award for being the first musher to run into the checkpoint of Cripple.
Lanier, running in his 15th Iditarod shows no signs of slowing down. Never have scratched in his last 14 Iditarod attempts, Lanier has entered and finished the race in each of the last five decades the race has been in existence. His goal is to finish this year in competitive fashion and after that; “who knows” he says.
Lanier arrived to Cripple at 1:35 pm Alaska time with 13 dogs. Cripple signifies the halfway point of this year’s Iditarod, the 40th running of the Last Great Race on Earth.
The GCI Dorothy Page Halfway Award is a trophy and $3,000 in placer gold nuggets courtesy of Iditarod Principle Partner, GCI.
The award will be presented again to Jim Lanier in Nome on Sunday, March 18th during the Iditarod Awards Banquet at the Nome Recreation Center.
Way to go Jim! Show those young musher’s how it’s done!
The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, also known as the Iditarod, has claimed it’s first victim. In the third night of the race, the first musher to scratch did so in Nikolai, Just 311 miles from the starting line.
Each year, 60+ mushers invest countless hours, incredible resources and close to forty thousand dollars for the opportunity to run in what is called the Last Great Race on Earth.
Some mushers invest everything they have and the race preparations consume them. Some lose jobs, husbands, wives, and homes–in the quest to fulfill a dream of running a thousand mile quest across the tundra and wind-swept landscape of the Great White North.
Sure, some people just are not ready to take on the challenge and they quickly find out just days into the race that they are not cut out for this. Some scratch. Others mush on to soon find out that enough is enough and end their race before reaching Nome.
Each year as we watch the mushers scratch one by one–many of us scratch our heads and ask why?
For some mushers it is their dogs. It might be a busted up sled after slamming into a tree on the infamous Happy River Steps. It could be lack of planning or logistics. It could be the musher’s health or an injury.
You will often hear of mushers wandering the trail dazed and confused after falling off their dog sled in a fit of sheer exhaustion. The dog team will trek on, leaving the musher where he stands. In a moment of terror the musher awakens and realizes what’s going on. “Where’s my dog team?” he cries and terror takes over him. His first concern is the safety of his dog team. The next is the safety of himself.
The sportsmanship of the race often means that a another musher will come to the aid of the driverless dog team and will tie them down. Another will often pick up the wandering musher and carry him back to his dog team or the next checkpoint.
The rules are clear on this and they allow a musher to catch a ride on another team’s sled or snow machine but it must be reported to the race marshal who may impose sanctions. This is only the case if a team is “driverless”.
Then we have Rule 36
Rule 36 — Competitiveness: A team may be withdrawn that is out of the competition and is not in a position to make a valid effort to compete. If a team has not reached McGrath within seventy-two (72) hours of the leader, Grayling/Galena within ninety-six (96) hours of the leader or, Unalakleet within one hundred twenty (120) hours of the leader, it is presumed that a team is not competitive. A musher whose conduct, constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm to him/her, dogs or other persons may also be withdrawn.
While shrouded in controversy, especially in recent years, this rule is a back-of-the-pack musher’s worst nightmare.
If race officials deem a musher non-competitive, his Iditarod is done. His dream is over. At least until next year.
Or will there be a next year?
For many, this is a one-shot deal. They realize quickly they don’t have the resources, the support or maybe even the dogs to do the race again.
You will often hear many of the elite mushers talk about a race for competitors and a race for those that just want to complete the quest. To fulfill the dream if you will.
Will the Iditarod come to this? I don’t know. I hope not.
I, like many, Iditarod fans give much respect for anyone who attempts this race and feel their agony when they scratch or are withdrawn.
I often notice the smiles, hope, and and wide-eyed optimism at the ceremonial start and re-start of the race and wish them all well on the trail.
But for some, the race just becomes too much and they quickly realize the Iditarod truly is,
Some kind of monster…
Zirkle is in first place 329 miles into the race in a 66 musher field that is vying for position to make it to Nome to claim a $50,000 purse and a new Dodge truck. A former Yukon Quest winner, the Iditrarod has eluded Zirkle and all women since the great Susan Butcher won in 1990.
The Pen Air Spirit of Alaska Award is given to the first musher that arrives in McGrath.
The award is a beautiful original “spirit mask” especially created for this event by Bristol Bay artist Orville Lind. In addition, Zirkle received a $500 credit toward travel or freight shipment.
The PENAIR SPIRIT OF ALASKA AWARD will be presented to Zirkle again on March 18th in Nome, Alaska at the Mushers Award Banquet.
Zirkle didn’t waste anytime after arriving in McGrath, only spending four minutes at the checkpoint before heading onto Takonta where she will (presumably) take her mandatory 24 hour rest.
In every sport there are names that transcend and are easily recognized among the hardcore fans and arm-chair ones alike. The Iditarod is no different. In a competition where more people have climbed Mount Everest than have finished the Iditarod it is pretty select company to become a well recognized musher in this sport.
While these folks are the names that we know, lets not forget the mushers and their teams in what we call back-of-the-packers, the countless handlers, musher’s widows (those waiting for their spouses to come in from the trail), the support staff and of course the dogs.
These are names which are automatically associated with the race:
Joe Redington, Sr. – co-founder and affectionately known as the “Father of the Iditarod”
Rick Swenson – the only five time champion, the only champion to win in three different decades and the only musher to have completed 30 Iditarod’s
Dick Mackey – the 1978 winner in the only photo finish in Iditarod’s history
Col. Norman D Vaughan – finished the race for the fourth time in 1988 at the age of 88 and led an expedition to Antarctica in the winter of 1993-‘94
Susan Butcher – the first woman to ever place in the top ten and the first four-time winner
Libby Riddles – in 1985, the first woman to win the Iditarod
Emmitt Peters – set a race record in 1975 that wasn’t broken until 1980, known as the Yukon River Fox
Rick Mackey – wearing bib #13, the same number his father wore in 1978, crossed the finish line first in 1983, making Dick and Rick the only father and son to have won the Iditarod
Joe Runyan – 1989 champion and the only musher to have won the Alpinrod in Europe, the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod
Terry Adkins – retired from the United States Air Force, the only veterinarian on the first Iditarod in 1973 and now one of only eight mushers to have completed at least 18 Iditarod’s
Doug Swingley – the first Iditarod winner living outside Alaska and the second four time winner
Martin Buser – a four-time winner who holds the record winning time and was the first musher to break the nine-day barrier
Herbie Nayokpuk – the Eskimo from Shishmaref, the “Shishmaref Cannonball” who raced in eleven Iditarod’s
DeeDee Jonrowe, Charlie Boulding, and Lance Mackey – all came back to race again after life threatening bouts with cancer
Robert Sørlie – first musher from out of the United States (Norway) to win the Iditarod
Lance Mackey – won the 2007 Iditarod after winning the Yukon Quest only 10 days earlier – first musher to have won both races in the same year and made Dick Mackey the only father to have won the Iditarod and to have two sons also win the Iditarod, all wearing bib #13. Lance Mackey repeated his feat of winning both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod in 2008. Lance is the first musher to ever win four consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races in a row (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010)
John Baker – first Eskimo to win the Iditarod and also set fastest winning time of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds in 2011.
Who is your favorite musher?
- Iditarod 40: Parking in Willow (robertforto.com)