Sixty-nine mushers have signed up to compete in the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, including four returning race champions and 16 rookies.
The deadline to register for the 2018 Iditarod was Friday. Mushers can still sign up to compete in the race until Feb. 15, but now they must pay double — a $4,000 late fee in addition to the $4,000 entry fee, according to race rules.
For now, the size of the 2018 Iditarod field is about average. Seventy-two mushers competed in the 2017 Iditarod. The year before that, 85 mushers started the race, the third-largest field ever. The last time the Iditarod had 69 total teams was in 2014.
So far, the 2018 Iditarod mushers include 17 women and 52 men. Eleven mushers listed their hometown as somewhere outside the United States — eight are from Canada, two from Norway and one is from Sweden. A total of 49 mushers said they were from Alaska.
Reigning Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey is signed up for the 2018 race, as are four-time Iditarod champions Martin Buser and Jeff King. John Baker, the 2011 Iditarod champion, is also signed up to compete.
Four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey and his sled dog team will not show up at the 2018 starting line. Instead, they'll be in Norway.
Seavey dropped out of the Iditarod earlier this year in protest over how race officials handled the investigation into his sled dogs' drug test results. The Iditarod announced in October that dogs on Seavey's team tested positive for tramadol, an opioid painkiller that the race prohibits. Seavey said he did not give the drug to his dogs.
Last week, Seavey announced that he would compete in the 2018 Finnmarksløpet, Europe's longest sled dog race. The 745-mile race starts on March 9 in Norway.
"It's important to me to have a lifetime of mushing experiences, not just running the same race over and over," Seavey said in a video posted online.
The 2018 Iditarod ceremonial start is scheduled for March 3 in Anchorage with a restart in Willow the following day.