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28th year of Alaska's great race

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Propane company reverses stand on sponsoring Brooks

FAIRBANKS - After a push from the Alaska Legislature, the nation's largest propane company has dropped its opposition to sponsorship of Iditarod musher Ramy Brooks by a Fairbanks affiliate.

House Speaker Brian Porter, R-Anchorage, said he got the word in a letter from Paul Grady, senior vice president of operations for AmeriGas.

[See Story]

Mushers fight accusations
Smear campaign wrong about Plettner dogs, kennel owner says

PALMER - A post-Iditarod flap has Houston musher Lynda Plettner defending herself against anonymous accusations that she and her husband tried to have dogs from her team euthanized at a local animal shelter.

Plettner, who has run the Iditarod eight times, and husband Dan Govoni operate a kennel near Houston where they train dogs and offer dog sled rides to tourists. Rookies Trisha Kolegar and Fedor Konyukhov, the last-place finisher, used teams with dogs from Plettner's kennel in this year's Iditarod.

[See Story]

News Photo
Lynda Plettner, photographed in Takotna, ran a team in this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Iditarod crystal ball was in sharp focus

Got one right.

I predicted that Doug Swingley was going to win the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race - and he did.

Matter of fact, Doug also said he was going to win. He was right, too. Of course, if you had asked all of those other top mushers, they would have said they were going to win. And they would have been wrong.

[See Story]

Red Lantern lights Russian's way home

Russian Fedor Konyukhov rode into Nome behind a team of 13 dogs Monday to bring to an end the 2000 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

For his last-place finish, the 48-year-old adventurer collected the traditional red lantern. Konyukhov had been vying with Dave Tresino of Talkeetna for that honor but cut a deal with his American trail mate before reaching Nome.

[See Story]

Barron takes home a souvenir

NOME - John Barron's most memorable souvenir of the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was not his $12,500 check for placing 15th but the bump on his head for forgetting to duck.

Barron clobbered himself on a tree branch while crossing the Farewell Burn. Mushing through a narrow chute, Barron bent low to pull up a flopping snow hook and slammed his head.

[See Story]

News Photo
David Milne of Two Rivers heads downwind on the Yukon River outside the village of Ruby last week. Milne, who was born in Scotland, finished the race Thursday in a 36th-place time of 11 days, 9 hours and 34 minutes. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Vets say dog's death not due to negligence

NOME - When Tobuk died on the trail two miles outside Elim on Wednesday afternoon, the dog went down suddenly. Musher Al Hardman halted his sled and rushed to the fallen animal.

Frantically trying to revive the 3-year-old husky, Hardman gave it CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Nothing worked, and Tobuk became the only canine fatality thus far in the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race among the nearly 1,300 dogs who started the race in Wasilla.

[See Story]

Damn the elements and just keep mushing

NOME - Joe Redington really is the guiding light of the Iditarod Trail. If there was any doubt.

Early in the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Mitch Seavey of Seward had problems. A virus was sapping his team. He had to drop several of his speediest and most powerful leaders and trust the team to two 7-year-olds, Dolphin and JoeJoe. JoeJoe, of course, was named after the father of the Iditarod.

[See Story]

13 Iditarods is enough for the Yukon Fox

NOME - Emmitt Peters, the 1975 Iditarod champ, crossed the finish line 40th Friday in the 2000 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, shaving a day off his fastest time set nearly 20 years ago. Peters, 59, and his 10-dog team finished the 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome in 12 days, 2 hours and 42 minutes. His best time before this year was in 1981, when he completed the race in 13 days, 14 hours and 14 minutes.

[See Story]

South Carolina musher runs with the big dogs

NOME - Even the third-graders Sonny King and his wife, Mallie, speak to could identify the place that doesn't fit on a list of top 20 Iditarod mushers' hometowns.

Kasilof; Lincoln, Mont.; Denali Park; Atlin, British Columbia; Healy; Spartanburg, South Carolina.

[See Story]

18-year-old a rookie no more
Willis cruises to 27th place to lead rookies

NOME - For his next trick, Tony Willis will choose a college.

At least it will be warmer. Or maybe not. Since graduating from high school last spring, Willis, 18, has climbed Mount McKinley and completed the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

[See Story]

Iditarod No. 11 a nostalgic run
Redington has 1,100 miles to think

NOME - It was a nostalgic journey down the trail for Raymie Redington in the 2000 Iditarod.

And emotional.

Redington, 55, of Knik, finished the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 29th place with a time of 11 days, 22 minutes, his fastest ever.

[See Story]

Alcina moves up with the big dogs

Juan Alcina of Willow was sunburned and happy after a best-ever 17th-place performance. The one-time aircraft mechanic for the Air Force in his native Spain stuck with the big dogs in the front of the pack for a long time and then hung on when his team contracted a bug in McGrath.

[See Story]

Dog dies on trail into Elim
Three-year-old male drops without warning

NOME - A dog named Tobuk traveling in the team of musher Al Hardman near Elim abruptly keeled over and died Wednesday afternoon, the first animal to perish in the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

[See Story]

For Mackey, 6th is just fine

NOME - Rick Mackey stood at the finish line of the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race as Tuesday night spilled into Wednesday morning.

He held his son Roland, 3, in his arms and laughed as the boy said, "Daddy, did we win the truck?"

[See Story]

News Photo

Riley earns Iditarod redemption

NOME - Crime and punishment. Forgiveness and redemption.

Those were the inescapable subplots of Jerry Riley's 2000 Iditarod.

Banned for life from the race he loves - and won - for cruelty to dogs, Riley has been an outcast since 1990. The first musher to attempt a long-distance double in the same season, Riley's suspension kept him out of the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest.

[See Story]

Vaughan's ceremonial serum pack hits Nome

NOME - Norman Vaughan, the intrepid, 94-year-old Alaskan adventurer, led a group of hardy snowmachiners and mushers onto Front Street Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the famed serum run that helped inspire the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

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Swingley's great race
Montana musher sets speed mark in his third win

NOME - There is big history and there is temporary history. Tuesday, mushing the final miles of the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Doug Swingley tried to write history that would stand forever.

Over the last 77 miles from White Mountain, Swingley wanted to squeeze one more thing from a race he dominated. He sought to become the first musher to run an eight-day Iditarod.

[See Story]

News Photo
Doug Swingley is flanked by lead dogs Stormy, left, and Cola during the garland ceremony at the finish line of Iditarod 2000 in Nome. (JIM LAVRAKAS / Anchorage Daily News)

View from behind
Ex-champs eat, delay sleep to watch the finish

WHITE MOUNTAIN - As Montanan Doug Swingley prepared to enjoy the spoils of yet another victory in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday, the best of the also-rans sat down to a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and friendly banter courtesy of Manley's Charlie Boulding.

Sort of.

It was Boulding who convinced Iditarod race judge John "Andy" Anderson that a big breakfast and a view of the Iditarod finish on television was a checkpoint tradition here 77 miles from Nome.

[See Story]

News Photo
Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof runs alongside his sled as he brings his dog team into Nome just before 3 p.m. Tuesday to clinch the runner-up spot behind champion Doug Swingley. The second-place finish, just under four hours shy of the former record, was Gebhardt's best finish in the race and continued his streak of improving each year he has run the race. (JIM LAVRAKAS / Anchorage Daily News)

Iditarod champ
Doug Swingley runs race he promised

As a former ballpayer, Doug Swingley should appreciate a comparison to the New York Yankees. He's left Alaska's best long-distance mushers looking a little like the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers or Atlanta Braves. They're all so good, and yet right now the Montana musher is much better.

[See Story]

Swingley's secret is out
Total dedication, faster dogs put Montana musher in Nome first

NOME - What's your secret, Doug? What's the secret, Mr. Swingley? C'mon, tell us your secret.

That's how it went for Doug Swingley at the finish line of the 28th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

[See Story]

News Photo

Swingley mushes past the crowd on Nome's Front Street to win his third Iditarod and his second in a row. (JIM LAVRAKAS / Anchorage Daily News)

Iditarod Notebook

Tired dogs end Riley's run

Jerry Riley, the 1975 Iditarod champion, scratched at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday after leaving Koyuk with nine dogs. The reason, he told the Iditarod Trail Committee, was "tired dogs." Riley had been running in the top-20 - often just outside the top-10 - most of the race. The trail committee had voted to allow Riley back into the 2000 Iditarod after he had previously been banned for life for mistreating dogs. He began the race with 16 dogs and dropped seven from his team along the way.

[See Story]

On course for a record win
Swift Swingley set to break Iditarod's nine-day barrier

WHITE MOUNTAIN - Expect Montanan Doug Swingley to challenge the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race's nine-day barrier in Nome this morning.

After he pulled in here Monday afternoon with the sun still high in the western sky, he confessed, "I'm kind of at least giving it a try."

If he succeeds, Swingley may be headed down Nome's Front Street before noon.

[See Story]

News Photo
Doug Swingley cruises with his team between Elim and Golovin on Monday. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Now it's just a race for second place

As Iditarod defending champion Doug Swingley settled into White Mountain Monday night - 77 miles from the Nome finish of the 28th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race - his closest competitors steeled themselves and their dogs for the final grind in a different sort of contest.

[See Story]

Team's 3rd win in sight
Swingley extends his Iditarod lead

SHAKTOOLIK - Parked in warm sunshine behind the checkpoint here Sunday, Doug Swingley, defending champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, was a happy musher.

"I'll be home tomorrow night or the day after tomorrow," he said. "Is today Sunday? I'll be home Tuesday night."

By home, he meant Nome and a Tuesday finish, one to give him a third Iditarod victory.

[See Story]

News Photo
Two of Doug Swingley's dogs eagerly await their meal as Swingley takes a break in the Norton Sound coastal village of Shaktoolik. Swingley is leading the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He is on a pace to set an Iditarod record and expects to arrive in Nome on Tuesday. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Swingley on pace to break 9 days

Montanan Doug Swingley could make this 28th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race a run for the ages.

His third victory would put him among an elite group of four mushers who have won at least three times. He also has a chance of running the first Iditarod in under nine days.

[See Story]

A hero's welcome in Ruby
Warm greetings help Yukon Fox thaw out

RUBY - The wind was whistling down the Yukon River, swirling snow and snapping the Iditarod checkpoint banner outside the local community center when the Yukon Fox came home Saturday.

Half the village was there to greet him. Heavily bundled in winter gear, they gathered on the hill beside the center to welcome Emmitt Peters back.

[See Story]

Huskies are nearly history

ALONG THE YUKON RIVER - The historic sled dog of the North is a dying breed.

Where once the Siberian husky ruled, a collection of mixed breeds that trace their ancestry back to hounds, pointers and retrievers now rules the trails.

Only three teams of huskies entered Iditarod 2000. One of them was down to a crawl Saturday.

[See Story]

News Photo
Iditarod rookie Karen Ramstead's Siberian huskies sleep at the McGrath checkpoint. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Swingley stretches his lead

With many of his closest competitors falling farther behind, defending champion Doug Swingley launched a swift team of 12 huskies toward the Bering Sea coast on Saturday night, leading what could become the fastest Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ever.

The 46-year-old, two-time winner began the 90-mile drive through the mountains to the coastal town of Unalakleet at 6:07 p.m. after resting his dogs more than five hours in the Yukon River's cold afternoon sun.

[See Story]

News Photo
Two of John Barron's dogs snuggle up on a bed of straw in Nikolai. Barron, of Willow, arrived at the checkpoint with a lump on his head after colliding with a tree. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Straub's troubled race skids to a halt

The trouble-plagued year of Dave Straub's Iditarod finally came to an end in McGrath on Saturday. The first musher to sign up for Iditarod 2000, the Willow dog driver had a nightmare experience in training when a dog team veered onto the George Parks Highway and was hit by a truck. Three dogs were killed. He eventually made it to the Iditarod starting line, but it was slow going from there.

[See Story]

Sports Mailbag

Restart was a disaster

I hope you'll have a reporter do a story on the absolute disaster of an Iditarod restart in Wasilla. Possible contacts for the story are any of the bus drivers for Laidlaw or any one of thousands of people who sat on buses in the parking lot of the starting area, sometimes up to an hour without being allowed to get off.

[See Story]

News Photo
Rich Bosela of Eagle River feeds his dogs during a pit stop in McGrath on Friday. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

When it hurts too much
Battered Wasilla musher weighs the unthinkable

McGRATH - A big, bearish, bearded man in pain, Shane Goosen sat on the front of his broken down dogsled on Friday with tears flowing down his dirty and trail-weary face.

His hands swollen, his nose scabbed, his right knee and ankle badly twisted, he was on the verge of scratching from Iditarod 2000.

[See Story]

News Photo
Shane Goosen of Wasilla weighs his options: going from McGrath or scratching because of his injuries. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Iditarod turning into a real race

With a seven-course gourmet meal in his belly and his dogs fresh after an eight-hour, straw-lined snooze, Montana musher Doug Swingley launched a swift drive down the mile-wide Yukon River Friday evening, leading the 28th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race into a crisp, cold night of fierce competition.

[See Story]

News Photo
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race rookie Mike Murphy of Newberry, Mich., pulled into the McGrath checkpoint about 9 a.m. Friday. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Upbeat Alcina puts hard training to use

OPHIR - Who is Juan Alcina?

That was the question being asked along the Iditarod Trail this week as a new name ran with the big dogs in Alaska's most fabled sled-dog race.

Alcina, who's been running as high as fifth, was in 15th place Friday, a few spots ahead of perennial top-10 finisher DeeDee Jonrowe.

[See Story]

Iditarod Notes

Roving checkpoint of Cripple

Pilots flying the Iditarod Trail are now calling the Cripple checkpoint "wolf kill" to avoid anyone getting lost. That's because the halfway checkpoint, which moves locations nearly every northern race, took a big jump in 2000. Instead of being about 60 miles north of the checkpoint at Ophir, the new location of "Cripple" lies about 80 to 90 miles north - about halfway to the Yukon River village of Ruby. Anyone flying to the location of the historic Cripple checkpoint - theoretically located near the site of a former gold-rush boom town of the same name - wouldn't find anything except empty wilderness. Officially, mushers may still be going through "Cripple," but they're bedding down at "Wolf Kill," little more than a frozen swamp good for landing airplanes.

[See Story]

The hard ride
Rookie smiles through mishaps

OPHIR - One-hundred-ten-pound Anna Bondarenko is running the pinball Iditarod: off the tree, into the stump, over the cliff - nothing but miles and miles of agony.

The 35-year-old rookie musher from Chugiak was working on her dogs here Thursday with a purple-striped left hand swollen to twice its normal size. Her little finger didn't appear to work at all, and the finger next to it barely moved.

[See Story]

News Photo
Enjoying a moment that's not dangerous, Anna Bondarenko gives her dogs medicine in McGrath. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Who's in front? Jury's still out
Swingley's lead gets mighty slim

As a frigid night descended on the uninhabited Innoko River Valley in Interior Alaska's wildest terrain, a pack of top teams drove toward the halfway camp of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Thursday night, threatening to overtake leaders still completing mandatory rests.

[See Story]

Takotna throws a mean feed
South Carolina musher knows where to stop for pecan pie

TAKOTNA - Sonny King puts the brakes on race strategy when it comes to pecan pie and spending time with friends he's made driving his team in the Iditarod Trial Sled Dog Race.

King, who took his mandatory 24-hour layover in this Alaska village of about 50 people, knew he'd get home-baked food, hugs from friends and memories enough to warm his trip through the chilly Interior and across miles of Bering Sea ice as he drives toward Nome.

[See Story]

'Bootie horn' a must

After seeing Nenana's Bill Cotter with a "bootie horn," Michigan rookie Mike Murphy just had to have one. The "bootie horn" is the doggie equivalent of a "shoe horn." A semicircular plastic tube with a rope leash and an elastic strap that a musher can wear around his or her wrist to keep the device from disappearing in the snow, the bootie horn costs $12. Murphy thought it was cute.

[See Story]

Swingley leads pack out of Ophir

Through the cold, vast, uninhabited wilderness that lies between the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers, Montana musher Doug Swingley drove his 13 dogs toward the halfway camp of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Wednesday night, leading a pack of top mushers on roughly the same schedule that's given him the championship twice before.

[See Story]

News Photo
The peaks of the Alaska Range tower behind Dan Dent of Baltimore as he leaves the Rohn checkpoint on the South Fork of the Kuskokwim River on his way to the Farewell Burn on Wednesday. Dent, a rookie, was in 74th place early Wednesday. (RICHARD J. MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Swenson's dog OK after collision

ROHN - A dog from the team of five-time champ Rick Swenson was injured on the trail to Rohn after apparently colliding with a tree, according to observers in Rohn and Iditarod officials.

"Something did happen with Rick Swenson's dog team and a tree," race director Joanne Potts said Wednesday. "The dog's going to be OK."

[See Story]

News Photo
Tony Willis of Anchorage lays down straw for his dogs at the McGrath checkpoint Wednesday morning. (RICHARD MURPHY / Anchorage Daily News)

Downhill dash takes some fun out of ride
Tough rookies meet the Dalzell Gorge

ROHN - Fear of the unknown haunted the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race rookies on the verge of their first passage through the Alaska Range into the wild Interior.

After more than a dozen years on sled runners, having built a business hauling people around on sled-dog tours, Mike Murphy figured he was largely immune to nerves.

[See Story]

Musher promotes health care network

When musher Mike Williams and his dogs left downtown Anchorage on Saturday for the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, he carried with him his perennial message of sobriety. For years, Williams, a popular musher, has inspired Alaskans with his declared "war on alcohol."

[See Story]

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