As I’m following the Iditarod this year, what strikes me most is the wide diversity in the mushers. I know I’m supposed to be writing about dogs, but have you taken a look at the field of humans?
Off-and-on leader Alliy Zirkle is female, and will possibly be the first female winner in over 20 years. (Susan Butcher won in 1990.)
Jim Lanier is 71 years old. 71! Can you imagine your parents or grandparents doing something so incredibly grueling?
Anna and Kristy Berington are twin sisters.
The Seaveys are a 3-generation family of competitors. Dallas has been hanging out near the front of the pack, while his father Mitch is in the top ten and grandpa Dan is currently in last place. Other family competitors include father and son Martin and Rohn Buser. Ray Redington, Jr and Ryan Redington are both grandsons of Iditarod co-founder Joe Redington, Sr. Ray is also the son of race veteran Raymie Redington.
There are 15 rookies in the field, 3 of whom have scratched; others have run the race multiple times. In fact, Lance Mackey is a four-time champion. When John Baker won, it was on his 16th try.
So, what about the race attracts such a wide variety of people? For some, it’s about the money: the total prize purse is $550,000 to be split among the first 30 finishers. The winner’s share is $50,400 and a new truck. For others, it’s the thrill of pitting themselves against the elements. Still others are true dog lovers; in fact, many of them run kennels or take vacationers on dog mushing adventures.
Read all of the musher’s profiles on the official Iditarod website.
For more human interest stories about the race, both the Alaska Daily News and the Iditarod site are running blogs.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!