We’re just four days away from the start of the 41st Iditarod. Profiles of the 66 mushers entered in this year’s race can be found at Iditarod.com:
Clicking on the name beneath each photo takes you to a biography of the musher.
As in past Iditarods, most of the mushers in this year’s race are from Alaska. However, there are a few mushers from the lower-48 states and from outside the U.S.: Canada, Brazil, Norway, New Zealand, Russia, Jamaica.
Jamaica? Yes, you read that right. Oswald “Newton” Marshall from St. Anne’s is part of the Jamaica Dogsled Team, sponsored by songwriter and “Margaritaville” resident, Jimmy Buffet. In 2006, Marshall traveled to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to train with four-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt. Marshall became the first Jamaican to complete the Yukon Quest in 2009, coming in 13th out of a field of 29 mushers. He also became the first Jamaican to finish the Iditarod in 2010, coming in 41st. He scratched in the 2011 race. Not wanting to end his Iditarod career with a scratch, Marshall arrived in Alaska this past summer to train with dogs from Kelley Griffin’s kennel for the 2013 race.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, there’s a healthy contingent of Native Alaskan mushers in this year’s race: Louie Ambrose, John Baker, Josh Cadzow, Rudy Demoski Sr., Michael Williams Sr., Michael Williams Jr. Demoski is something of a surprise. He ran in the second Iditarod in 1974, finishing 4th. He raced his last Iditarod in 1985. He says he’s missed training dogs for the past three decades, and in recent years, after watching friends compete, he decided he wasn’t getting any younger. This will be the 67-year-old Demoski’s seventh Iditarod try.
The Iditarod mushing dynasties will also be well-represented: Jason Mackey, Lance Mackey, Ray Redington Jr., Dallas Seavey, Mitch Seavey, Cim Smyth, Ramey Smyth.
Who am I looking to win this year’s race? With the Iditarod, you’re mushing on thin ice picking a single favorite, so I’ll name a few. Last year’s winner, Dallas Seavey, will definitely be the musher to beat. We’ll see if he’s at the beginning of a stretch of Iditarod wins. I’ll personally be rooting for Aliy Zirkle, mainly because she came so close last year, finishing second behind Dallas. Her husband, Allen Moore, won this year’s Yukon Quest and is also racing in this year’s Iditarod. However, Aliy will be running the best dogs from the Yukon Quest team, so that gives her an edge. Lance Mackey, who dominated the race from 2007 – 2010, has had problems with his dog teams the past few years and scratched from this year’s Yukon Quest. However, you can never count the four-time Iditarod champion out.
One name I’m not seeing on a lot of favorites lists this year is John Baker. The 2011 Iditarod champ holds the fastest time of any Iditarod winner, and he has finished in the top ten in 13 out of his 17 races. He’s definitely a musher to keep your eye on this year.
So who are your favorites?