WASILLA -- Forty-one mushers, including four former champions, signed up Saturday to run the 2006 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Among the first signing up for the 34th annual race from Anchorage to Nome were former champions Mitch Seavey of Seward, Martin Buser of Big Lake, Jeff King of Denali Park and Doug Swingley of Lincoln Mont.
"I've got to work this year," Swingley said. "My wife is taking the year off."
Swingley's wife, Melanie Shirilla finished 54th this March.
Other Iditarod veterans signing up were Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, Ramy Brooks of Healy, John Baker of Kotzebue, Lynda Plettner of Big Lake, Lance Mackey of Kasilof and Gary Paulsen of Willow.
Paulsen, author of more than 175 books, many aimed at young people last ran the Iditarod in 1985. He moved back from New Mexico last year.
"I never should have stopped running," he said. "I bought Tyrell Seavey's team when he got to Nome last year."
Tyrell is Mitch Seavey's son.
Asked if he had a sponsor, Paulsen laughed and said, "Random House."
"I've got a nine-book contract," he said. "I took the advance and put it into dogs."
Rachael Scdoris of Bend Ore., the legally blind musher who entered this year's race but did not finish, also signed up. She will have Iditarod veteran Tim Osmar of Ninilchik as her visual guide on the trail.
Scdoris said she has been busy making public appearances, but will begin training this fall.
She also handed in required paperwork for Osmar, who did not attend. The trail committee last year agreed to waive fees for the musher who will guide Scdoris on the trail with the aid of a two-way radio.
Among the rookies signing up were Daytona Dayton, a talk-show host from Eagle, Idaho, who said she is paying Iditarod veteran Vern Halter of Willow $150,000 to help her train and run the Iditarod.
Lori Townsend of Willow was the first to sign up. She arrived at Iditarod headquarters Tuesday night and stayed until Saturday.
She will benefit from a new rule that changes how the mushers' starting order is determined.
In previous years, mushers would draw for their starting positions. But for the 2006 race, mushers will pick their starting position in the order they signed up.
Townsend, who ran the race in 1996 and 1997, said she will pick a spot in the top five. Other mushers indicated they would wait until the musher's banquet just before the start of the race to pick their positions, with an eye on the weather.
Plettner said the best time to move dogs out of checkpoint is from 4 to 6 a.m. -- or in the late afternoon.
"You have to train like you race, and race like you train, so the dogs are comfortable with what's going on," she said.
Last year 79 mushers started the race. The cost of entering is $1,850.
The entry fee is returned to two mushers drawn at random on the first day of signup. Veteran Aaron Burmeister of Nenana and rookie Kim Kittridge of Eagle River were picked for the waiver.
2006 Iditarod Entry List
As of 5 p.m., Saturday
Lori Townsend, Willow; G.B. Jones, Knik; Cliff Wang, Lincoln, Mont.; Frank Sihler, Knik; Jeff King, Denali Park; *Bryan Bearss, Anchorage; Bill Pinkham, Linwood, Colo.; Doug Swingley, Lincoln, Mont.; Ken Anderson, Fairbanks; Jim Lanier, Chugiak; Jessie Royer, Fairbanks; Ramey Smyth, Big Lake; Ed Iten, Kotzebue; Aaron Burmeister, Nenana; *Debra Glenn, Verona, Wis.; John Barron, Helmville, Mont.; *Kim Kittredge, Wasilla; Martin Buser, Big Lake; *Tim Forbus, Eagle River; Mitch Seavey, Seward; *Eric Rogers, Eagle River; *Gary Paulsen, Willow; Ramy Brooks, Healy; Jessica Hendricks, Two Rivers; *Daytona Dayton, Willow; John Baker, Kotzebue; Jerry Sousa, Talkeetna; Bryan Mills, Marengo, Wis.; Judy Currier, Two Rivers; Aily Zirkle, Two Rivers; Lynda Plettner, Big Lake; *Richard Hum, Talkeetna; Melanie Gould, Talkeetna; DeeDee Jonrowe, Willow; *Katrina Pawlaczyk, Wasilla; Clinton Warnke, Fairbanks; Lance Mackey, Kasilof; Robert Bundtzen, Anchorage; Dave Tresino, Talkeetna; Roger Roberts, Ophir; Jason Barron, Lincon, Neb.; *Warren Palfrey, Yellowknife, Yukon Territory; Matt Hayashida, Willow; Max Hall, Manchester, England; Peter Bartlett, Wasilla; Sebastian Schnuelle, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; Bjornar Anderson, Oslo, Norway; Ben Stamm, Argyle, Wis.; *Glenn Lockwood, Deforest, Wis.; Terry Adkins, Sand Coulee, Mont.; Kelly Williams, Two Rivers; Rick Swenson, Two Rivers; Rachael Scdoris, Bend, Ore.; Tim Osmar, Ninilchik.