Down but not out, Jonrowe signs up for 2016 Iditarod

DeeDee Jonrowe, who saved her dogs but lost her home this month in the Sockeye wildfire, signed up Saturday for the 2016 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Jonrowe, whose 30 Iditarod finishes include 16 top-10 finishes, was among a field of 62 mushers who signed up Saturday for next year's race.

Also signing up was another woman who lost her home in the wildfire that ravaged the Willow area, which numerous mushers call home. Jan Steves, the 2012 Red Lantern winner, will try to make it to Nome for the second time in five attempts.

A number of big names were on hand Saturday in Knik to sign up for the annual 1,000-mile race between Anchorage and Nome. Among them were four Iditarod champions -- three-time winner and defending champion Dallas Seavey, his dad and two-time champion Mitch Seavey, and four-time winners Martin Buser and Jeff King.

Mail-in entries came from two-time champion Robert Sorlie of Norway and three-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers.

Jonrowe is coming off a 31st-place showing in this year's race. She is 61 years old and her first Iditarod was in 1980, but two of her top-10 showings came recently, in 2012 and 2013.

The fan favorite was able to save 52 sled dogs and a few personal possessions from the Sockeye fire but lost everything else, including many months' worth of dog food.

Jonrowe got a bit of good news at the Saturday signup and volunteer picnic in Knik. A drawing was held for two free entries -- a prize worth the $3,000 price of an entry fee -- and the winners were Jonrowe and Ellen Halverson.

Mushers have until Dec. 1 to enter the race, which starts on the first Saturday of March.