Iditarod’s 2023 top rookie, facing assault charge, disqualified from this year’s race

The Iditarod Trail Committee’s governing board voted to disqualify musher Eddie Burke Jr. from this year’s race.

Burke, 34, placed seventh in last year’s Iditarod, and was the Rookie of the Year.

A three-sentence statement from the race organization sent out Monday said that the board of directors voted to remove Burke “pursuant to Rule 53,” the broad personal-conduct statute in the Iditarod’s official handbook. According to the rule, “All Iditarod mushers will be held to a high standard of personal and professional conduct. Musher conduct that is recklessly injurious to the Iditarod, Iditarod competitors, sponsors or anyone associated with the race is strictly prohibited.”

The statement did not say what conduct by Burke prompted the decision, and an Iditarod spokesperson declined to comment further and did not respond to specific questions. The action came at an emergency board meeting Monday.

Burke is facing a felony assault charge connected to a 2022 incident in Anchorage.

According to charging documents, Anchorage police officers responding to a call in May 2022 found a woman outside a residence in South Anchorage “crying, with blood on her face and hand.” The woman told them she had thrown a phone at her boyfriend, Burke, who then threw it back, hitting her in the chest. As she tried to leave, she said, Burke grabbed her neck and strangled her in a chokehold. The woman told officers that when she tried to grab Burke’s face, he bit her finger. “She described how she was fighting for her life while being strangled and thought she was going to pass out because she could not breathe,” the charging document says.

The Daily News generally does not name victims of domestic violence.


Burke did not respond to multiple messages requesting an interview on the charges or the Iditarod disqualification, nor did an attorney representing him in the assault case, which is still open and next scheduled for a pre-indictment hearing in mid-March.

It’s not clear why, if the 2022 assault allegation was what precipitated Burke’s disqualification, he was allowed to compete in the 2023 Iditarod, when those charges would have been publicly available for several months.

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Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.