The entries are in: 58 mushers have signed up for the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, including six former champions and a dozen rookies.
Monday was the first deadline to register for the 2020 Iditarod. Mushers can still sign up to compete in the 1,000-mile race to Nome until Feb. 19, 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 2020 field is slightly larger than last year’s: 52 teams competed in the 2019 Iditarod, the fewest since 1989. In 2018, 67 mushers started the race.
The 2020 lineup looks to be a competitive one.
“They’re all here again," said Mark Nordman, Iditarod race director and race marshal. ”I don’t want to say it and sound like a broken record, that it’s a competitive field and all of that, but it is."
Defending champion Pete Kaiser is signed up, as are four-time champions Martin Buser, Jeff King and Lance Mackey. The lineup also includes three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom, the 2019 runner-up and 2018 champion.
Jessie Royer and Aliy Zirkle are headed back to the starting line too. They placed third and fourth respectively in the 2019 Iditarod.
Another top contender preparing for the 2020 Iditarod is Nicolas Petit, who held the lead for much of the 2019 race before dropping out in Shaktoolik, roughly three-quarters of the way down the trail.
Travis Beals, Paige Drobny, Ramey Smyth and Aaron Burmeister all placed in the top 10 in the 2019 Iditarod and are set to race in 2020.
The 12 Iditarod rookies include Quince Mountain from Wisconsin, who appeared this year on the Discovery Channel show “Naked and Afraid.” Mountain is married to author and musher Blair Braverman, who was a rookie in the 2019 Iditarod but is not signed up for 2020.
A new international race circuit is also launching in 2020, the QRILL Pet Arctic World Series, and the Iditarod is its grand finale. So far, two 2020 Iditarod mushers are competing in other events in the circuit, according to officials. Thomas Waerner will race in Norway’s Femundløpet, and Ryan Redington will compete in the Beargrease in Minnesota.