Buser to lead Iditarod pack out of Anchorage

John Sweeney
Anchorage Daily News

A dynasty in the Iditarod this decade? Probably not. It sort of depends on whom you talk to.

When Dallas Seavey won the Iditarod last year as the youngest musher ever, and his father Mitch finished seventh, it would be natural to predict a dynasty on the horizon in the annual 1,000 mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome.

Not only do the Seaveys not believe that, but a collection of top mushers on hand Thursday night at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center don't foresee that happening either.

"It's extremely unlikely," said Mitch Seavey, the 2004 champion, at the Iditarod mushers drawing and pre-race banquet. "There's too many good teams and too many good dogs for that to happen."

"Nobody has been on a runaway winner," said four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake. "To win this race, you have to earn it. (Lance) Mackey's streak was several years ago."

Buser benefitted from some good fortune Thursday; he drew No. 2, meaning he'll be the first sled dog team out of the chute on Saturday, when the ceremonial race start goes off at 10 a.m.

In 2007, Lance Mackey started a streak of four consecutive first-place finishes in Nome. But, as Buser noted, that's almost ancient history.

Still, defending champion Dallas Seavey, at the age of 25, and with dad Mitch driving against him, would appear to have the best chance of anybody to put together a string of victories.

"I don't think we can concern ourselves too much with history," Mitch Seavey said. "Although, I know this might sound arrogant, but we consider ourselves as the main competition. If we were to finish in the top 5, we'd be ecstatic."

Dallas turns 26 on Monday.

Former Yukon Quest (1985) and Iditarod (1989) champion Joe Runyan said Dallas Seavey's best days may lie ahead. Runyan, who writes a blog for the Trail Committee, said Dallas Seavey will be difficult to beat.

"He owns the checkpoints," Runyan said. "He's so fast and efficient. He could end up winning a lot in the next few years."

When Mackey -- who drew No. 5 Thursday night -- won that first of four Iditarods in 2007, he became the first and only musher to win both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year.

Last month's Quest winner Allen Moore of Two Rivers has a chance to equal Mackey's feat. Moore and partner Aliy Zirkle train together up north. Zirkle finished second in last year's Iditarod. Moore's best Iditarod finish is 24th.

"She gets the 'A team' for the Iditarod," Moore said. "So if Aliy wins, well, it won't be the same musher but it'll be many of the same dogs.

"We're hopeful," Moore said, partly based on his Quest win.

"We know now that these dogs can do it," Moore said, "We're going to tackle it as it comes."


Trail bits

It was only natural the Joe Redington Founders Award went to Joe and Norma Delia, longtime hosts of the Skwentna checkpoint. Both Joes met in the 1950s. Joe Redington went on to become the "Father of the Iditarod" while Joe and Norma Delia served dinner for 400 over four days every March in Skewntna. ... The most popular non-winner in race history, DeeDee Jonrowe, attracted the most autograph-seekers, by far. She drew No. 28. ... As already reported, Jan Newton will be the honorary No. 1 starter. ... Newton Marshall from St. Anne, Jamaica, thanked the Cleveland Browns for the NFL team's support in this year's effort.

In an earlier version of this story, one of Jeff King's sponsors was reported incorrectly. King's sponsors include ManMat, a Czech Republic harness making company, not the country itself. 




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