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As a champion is crowned, small crew brings up rear of Iditarod pack

Undated overhead shot during the 49th running of the Iditarod.
Undated overhead shot during the 49th running of the Iditarod.(Iditarod Insider)
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 2:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After Dallas Seavey took his fifth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race title upon crossing the finish line in the 49th running of the race early Monday morning, a mix of teams at the back of the pack remains around 200 miles away from the end of their races.

The group bringing up the rear is almost all rookies, with the exception of two mushers: Victoria Hardwick, a Bethel dentist who was the Red Lantern winner as the last musher to cross the finish line in 2019; and Larry Daugherty, a radiation oncologist with plans to summit Mt. Everest.

The rest have yet to finish their first Iditarod. Dakota Schlosser, of Willow, was the last check-in to Nikolai, arriving at 11:28 p.m. Saturday night. Among those a bit ahead of him were Hardwick – by just two minutes – and fellow rookies Will Trosyhnski, Jeremy Traksa and Hal Hanson.

Rookie Susannah Tuminelli, who moved to Alaska in 2018 and now calls Willow home, and Sean Underwood, who in 2020 jumped in to fill in for Jeff King at the last minute but scratched before getting to the finish line, both left Nikolai ahead of the other group, departing at 10:46 p.m. and 11:47 p.m., respectively. All teams at the back of the pack left Nikolai by 8:43 a.m. Monday.

After Nikolai, the group will follow their competitors to Rohn, Finger Lake and Skwentna before making their ways to the finish line at Deshka Landing.

Here’s a little more information on some of the mushers who are at the back of the pack.

Jeremy Traska, Bib No. 5

Born in Idaho and brought to Alaska as he pursued a mathematics degree at the University of Alaska Southeast, Traska ended up dropping out of school to pursue a career in musher. He started his own team in 2013 after beginning to train with his future wife, Shaynee. Together, they’ve raised all but one of the dogs in their kennel from birth. Traska also works as a landscaper and a manager for a Mendenhall Glacier tour guide group.

Hal Hanson, Bib No. 12

In 2017, Hanson moved to the Kenai, learning long-distance mushing under the guidance of Mitch Seavey, according to his Iditarod biography. The move came after growing up in Oklahoma, taking care of livestock, but by 2013, he “decided to go north in search of cooler weather.”

Hanson, a rookie this year, said he was long intrigued by the Iditarod and when he first moved to the state, he spent several years training sprint dogs on the Yukon River before moving up to the big leagues of long-distance racing.

Will Troshynski, Bib No. 27

Troshynski, another rookie, was born in Wyoming but raised in Alaska, later going on to be mentored by champion Martin Buser in the early 2000s for Troshynski’s first Jr. Iditarod. Troshynski has been a handler for mushers all across Alaska, according to his Iditarod biography, with “a brief four-year hiatus for college in between.”

Will and his spouse moved to the Fairbanks area in 2017 to start ATAO Kennel – the first part of which stands for “Adventure, Truth, Accountability, Onward” – a small kennel based in Two Rivers. Troshynski, who’s been open about his struggle with depression, said he “mushes to show that you can do big things while coping with mental health issues,” and takes pride in racing for LGBTQ+ youth.

Dakota Schlosser, Bib No. 39

Rookie Schlosser, who is in his early twenties, has been racing sled dogs for more than 15 years, according to his Iditarod biography. He moved to Alaska from Wisconsin in 2012, and at that time, switched from sprint racing to distance racing.

He runs a competitive race kennel that comprises dogs he has raised mostly from puppies. Since moving to the Last Frontier, he’s run the Jr. Iditarod a couple of times, receiving Rookie of the Year honors on his first run for a fourth-place finish, and in 2020 accepted the Humanitarian award for the Alpine Creek 300 race.

Larry Daugherty, Bib No. 43

Daugherty comes to the Iditarod from Eagle River, where he resides with his wife and five kids. He’s running this year in part for a mission called, “Hope for Alaska,” with the mission of spreading hope across the state as we continue to plug along through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daugherty’s finished three Iditarod races since 2016, with his highest finish being 40th place in two years after that.

Victoria Hardwick, Bib No. 48

Hardwick, a traveling dentist based in Bethel, moved to Alaska shortly before her first Iditarod, when she found an opportunity mushing with Myron Angstman.

She was inspired by him to run the Iditarod, and told the Iditarod Trail Committee that after her rookie race, she “fell in love with the adventures and challenges my dogs and I experienced on the trail.”

Hardwick remains in the running for this year’s Red Lantern Award; it would be the second of her career.

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