Suzanna Caldwell

Ellen Halverson has two red lanterns, but she definitely doesn’t want a third.

The Wasilla musher is the only two-time collector of the trophy, the prize given to the last Iditarod racer under the burled arch in Nome. The award stems from the idea of keeping a light on until the last musher crosses the finish line.

But for Halverson, a full-time psychiatrist and single mom, she’s tired of last-place finishes in the Iditarod (in 2007 and 2011) and other sled dog races.

“I just don’t want to be last,” she said in February. “I just want to do better.”...

Suzanna Caldwell

Iditarod nerds, get ready to pick your mushers.

Led by "contest marshal" Danny Seavey -- son of Iditarod champion Mitch and a three-time race finisher himself -- the Iditarod Fantasy League is back.

It's free to play. Each person who signs up has a "salary cap" of $27,000 to sponsor seven mushers. Each musher has a different “sponsorship” cost. For example, competitive mushers like Aliy Zirkle go for $6,000 while rookies like Heidi Sutter go for $2,000. Some mushers have lower buy-ins if they have scratched in a previous race...

Suzanna Caldwell

Google is heading out on the Iditarod Trail this year, at least for a while.

John Bailey, a former University of Alaska Fairbanks professor who now works as a program manager for Google Geo Education, is doing a Google Street View “special collect” to capture portions of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race...

Suzanna Caldwell

Karin Hendrickson, the veteran musher who suffered a training accident in September, won’t be on the Iditarod Trail this year, but her dogs will be.

At the Iditarod banquet Thursday night, Hendrickson said she was glad her team -- which will be traveling with veteran racer Bryan Bearss -- would still be heading to Nome, but it was bittersweet for the four-time race finisher. When asked how she would follow the race, not being on the trail was a concept still hard for her to accept.

“I might crawl into a ball and not pay attention for a few weeks,” Hendrickson said...

Suzanna Caldwell

Forget the Happy River Steps and the always treacherous Dalzell Gorge when it comes to this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Those notorious parts of the trail are not in the rerouted race, and their equivalent doesn't exist on the new trail from Fairbanks.

But that’s not to say this year’s Iditarod won’t have its own challenges. The weather can always be a major problem, as last year's race demonstrated when the leaders were battered by a windstorm not far from the finish line.

“Technical challenges, I don’t think they will exist much at all,” said veteran racer and Iditarod “ armchair musher ” Sebastian Schnuelle. “But the weather challenge will exist.”...

Suzanna Caldwell

In the early days of the Iditarod, Raine Hall Rawlins, the race’s first paid staffer and executive director, barely scraped by.

She remembers writing the Iditarod Runner, one of the organization’s first newsletters, on paper by candlelight in the small Yukon River community of Ruby, where she was on the Iditarod Trail Committee's board and a dog handler for champion musher Emmitt Peters. Back then, in the early 1970s, there was no phone, no typewriter, no electricity for light bulbs in the village.

When she later moved to Wasilla, Rawlins went and found the first telephone for the race's first office, using her own money to pay for it ...

Suzanna Caldwell

The saga of four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser is one that some race fans have followed for decades. But for the first time, the mushing legend out of Big Lake is telling the story in his own words.

On Sunday, Buser released his first book, " Dog Man ." He said the book, written by the Big Lake musher himself, chronicles his life including his 35 years in Alaska, and the 31 Iditarods he’s run over that time. He's never scratched nor finished lower than 25th...

Suzanna Caldwell

Another day, another move for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Race organizers announced Monday that the Fairbanks restart -- already moved from its traditional location in Willow for only the second time in race history -- would be moved from the Chena River north of Pike’s Landing to a nearby road due to warm weather and deteriorating river ice...

Suzanna Caldwell

If musher Brent Sass had his way, he would live completely off the grid on his remote homestead in remote Eureka . But with almost 60 dogs and a burgeoning racing career, Sass acknowledges that a few creature comforts are necessary.

An Internet connection to stay in touch with the outside world and sponsors is needed. So is running water, even though nearby Joe Bush Creek provides plenty. Sass admits it would be harder to keep handlers around without it.

“Most days I don’t want running water, I just want water out of the creek," Sass said. “I don’t rule out going more rustic but it is a big operation. I’m not sure I could get people to come help me.”...

Suzanna Caldwell

Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King is gearing up for the trail with a meal fit for a King.

The Glacier Brewhouse, Orso and Make-A-Wish Alaska are partnering to host “Dinner With the King." Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The five-course meal is modeled after sections of the race -- including the ceremonial start, restart, Interior and Bering Sea and burled arch. Many of the courses play on the King theme, including king crab, white king salmon and “King” bananas foster. All are paired with Glacier Brewhouse beers...

Suzanna Caldwell