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Reader poll results: What are the Iditarod's most memorable moments?

  • Author: Mike Campbell
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published February 26, 2017

A year ago in this Iditarod special section, we asked readers to vote on what they considered the most memorable moments in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that began in 1973. Some 400 of you responded.

We proposed 15 memorable Iditarod moments and asked readers to pick their favorites — or offer other ideas that we may have overlooked.

As it turned, there was a runaway winner. Here's the top five in order.

Dick Mackey runs in front of Rick Swenson in a sprint to the Iditarod finish in Nome in 1978. (Rob Stapleton / ADN archive 1978)

1. Dick Mackey's photo-finish win by one second over Rick Swenson in the 1978 Iditarod got 119 first-place votes, nearly double what the runner-up earned.

Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1985. (Greg Anderson / ADN archive)

2. Libby Riddles' 1985 championship, the first victory by a woman, got 62 votes.

Lance Mackey after his 2008 Iditarod win with lead dogs Larry, left, and Hansom. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive)

3. Not far behind in third was Lance Mackey of Fairbanks becoming the first and only musher to win the Yukon Quest and Iditarod back to back in 2007 and 2008 — in the middle of his streak of four consecutive Iditarod victories. Mackey got 55 votes.

Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily NewsSusan Butcher after winning the 1990 Iditarod. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

4. In fourth place with 28 votes is the late Susan Butcher's fourth victory in 1990, cementing her status as the greatest female musher ever.

5. In fifth with 20 votes is Rick Swenson's record-setting fifth victory, the most in Iditarod history, in 1991.

As we hoped, readers offered other ideas beyond the 15 suggestions we published. Most were excellent, including:

*Lance Mackey's four consecutive Iditarod victories, and his eight wins in 1,000-mile races.

*Martin Buser becoming a U.S. citizen under the burled arch of Nome's Front Street after his 2002 win.

*Buser winning an unmatched five Leonhard Seppala awards for his superior dog care.

*DeeDee Jonrowe racing as she recovered from cancer, and the grit she demonstrated once again by racing after her Willow home was burned to the ground by a Mat-Su wildfire.

*Dallas Seavey becoming the youngest champion in 2012.

*John Baker of Kotzebue becoming the first Inupiaq — or northern Native — Alaska musher to win. His 2011 victory set an Iditarod speed record at the time.

*The late Carl Huntington's 1974 victory as a rookie, making him the only musher to win both the Iditarod and the Fur Rendezvous World Championship sprint race.

*The late Herbie Nayokpuk of Shishmaref finishing fourth just five months after open-heart surgery in 1984.

*Rachael Scdoris finishing the 2006 Iditarod despite being legally blind.


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