Iditarod rookie from Two Rivers gets off to good start as 52 mushers sign up for 2018 race

Shaynee Traska of Two Rivers was the first musher to sign up in person for the 2018 Iditarod on Saturday — and she was one of the luckiest.

Traska, 28, was one of two mushers who won free entry into the 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Willow, a veteran and top contender, was the other musher whose name was picked in the drawing for free entry — a prize worth $4,000.

Traska, a rookie who runs a 40-dog kennel with her husband, said she has dreamed about racing the Iditarod for years.

"This has been almost a 20-year dream of mine," she said. "When I was 9 years old my aunt and uncle came to Alaska on vacation and they met Joe Redington, came back home to Michigan, told me about the race and the sled dogs and I told my parents, 'I'm going to do that some day.' "

She said her goal is to make it to Nome.

Among Saturday's 52 entries were reigning champion Mitch Seavey and three four-time champions.


Dallas Seavey, Martin Buser and Jeff King will join three-time champion Mitch Seavey in the 46th annual race.

Mushers have until Dec. 1 to enter.

Akiak's Mike Williams Jr. was one of 33 mushers who signed up in person Saturday at Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters in Wasilla. Another 19 entered by mail.

Willliams, who has finished in the top 15 in three races, skipped the 2017 Iditarod.

"I would like to try to compete again," he said. "I just want to come out and do the best that I can."

Williams arrived at the Iditarod headquarters with his wife, their 1-year-old daughter and his father, Mike Williams Sr., who last ran the Iditarod in 2013.

The elder Williams, 65, said he had no plans to return for the 2018 Iditarod.

"Maybe I'll wait until I'm 70," he said with a laugh.

2018 Iditarod entries

Tom Schonberger, Chugiak
Cody Strathe, Fairbanks
DeeDee Jonrowe, Willow
Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Willow
Mary Helwig, Willow
Jason Mackey, Nenana
Nick Petit, Girdwood
Laura Neese, McMillan
Shaynee Traska, Two Rivers (rookie)
Dallas Seavey, Willow
Mike Williams, Aniak
Richie Diehl, Aniak
Zoya DeNure, Delta
Ramey Smyth, Willow
Scott Janssen, Anchorage
Peter Kaiser, Bethel
Jesse Holmes, Nenana (rookie)
Lev Shvarts, Willow
Brett Bruggeman, Great Falls, Montana (rookie)
Mitch Seavey, Sterling
Tom Knowlmayer, Wasilla
Linwood Fiedler, Willow
Mike Suprenant, Chugiak
Magnus Kaltenborn, Whitehorse
Tara Cicatello, Buffalo, N.Y. (rookie)
Gerry Willomitzer, Whitehorse
Misha Wiljes, Willow
Matt Hall, Two Rivers (rookie)
Jeff Deeter, Fairbanks
Alex Buetow, Denali Park
Charley Bejna, Knik
Anna Berington, Knik
Meredith Mapes, Knik (rookie)
Jessie Royer, Fairbanks
Martin Buser, Big Lake
Jim Lanier, Chugiak
Mats Pettersson, Sweden
Rick Casillo, Big Lake
Ray Redington Jr., Knik
Rob Cooke, Whitehorse
Robert Redington, Willow
Jason Campeau, Alberta
Ryan Redington, Skagway
Kristy Berington, Knik
Tim Muto, Manley Hot Springs (rookie)
Andy Pohl, Knik (rookie)
Allen Moore, Two Rivers
Anja Radano, Talkeetna (rookie)
Michelle Phillips, Yukon
Marcelle Fressineau, Whitehorse
Aliy Zirkle, Two Rivers
Jeff King, Denali Park

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.