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Minnesotan, Alaskan duel for Iditarod rookie-of-year honors

  • Author:
  • Updated: June 30, 2016
  • Published March 12, 2014

UPDATE noon Wednesday

From Kevin Klott --

A sprint to the finish between the Iditarod's top two rookies highlighted Wednesday morning action on Front Street in Nome.

Minnesotan Nathan Schroeder and Abbie West of Two Rivers went head-to-head along the final 22 miles of trail after both checked out of Safety at 6:15 a.m. In the end, Schroeder took the 2014 rookie of the year crown as he crossed the finish line five minutes and 36 seconds ahead of West at 8:52 a.m.

A three-time winner of the 400-mile John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Minnesota, Schroeder, 36, pocketed $16,900 for placing 17th in 9 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes, 51 seconds.

"That was a quick nine days," Schroeder told race marshal Mark Nordman at the finish line.

Schroeder, a mechanic who lives in Chisholm, Minn., credited his rookie of the year award to a little bit of luck with Mother Nature along the Norton Sound coast.

"That storm held up that other rookie," he told KNOM radio. "I caught up to her and beat her here."

Asked if fellow Iditarod drivers and race followers should expect to see him return to the 1,000-mile trail next year, Schroeder politely declined.

"Naw," he said. "One and done."

He wouldn't be the only rookie to have ever "one and done." At least one in every decade since the race started in 1973 never returned to the trail.

About an hour after the rookies arrived, Canadian Michelle Phillips officially rounded off the top 20 when she pulled into Nome behind 12 dogs at 9:55 a.m. She finished 36 minutes behind Kotzebue's John Baker, who missed a top-10 finish for the second-straight year after winning the Iditarod in 2011.

Also finishing in the top 20 were Michael Williams Jr. (11th), Ken Anderson (12th), Pete Kaiser (13th), Richie Diehl (14th), Matt Failor (15) and Wade Marrs (16th).

A finisher who surprisingly placed outside of the top 20 was Norwegian Robert Sorlie. The two-time Iditarod champion finished a career-worst 21st place.

As of noon Wednesday, 29 teams remained on the trail.

Anchorage Daily News /