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Big showing at the 50th Anniversary Iditarod race signup

Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 7:52 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - According to the Iditarod CEO, 48 mushers signed up for the race on the first day, including the 2019 champion Thomas Waerner, who had to skip last years race due to logistical problems the pandemic presented for his travel from Norway.

There were Idtiarod champions everywhere you looked with Dallas and Mitch Seavy, Martin Buser and Joar Leifseth Ulsom holding 11 titles between them, making it a start studded picnic at the Iditarod Headquarters out in the Mat-Su. Saturday’s entrants include nine rookies. International teams from Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Norway, as well as the states of New Hampshire and Montana are represented. The remaining mushers are all from Alaska. You can view the entire list of entrants here.

The event also marked the first time in a couple of years that everyone including mushers, volunteers and fans had the chance to see each other in person.

“It is super exciting to have everybody here and get a celebration of the community,” Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach said.

All of the mushers that signed up Saturday are guaranteed a draw in the first 40-45 starting places, but if you ask four time champion Martin Buser, it doesn’t make all that big of a difference.

“There is no lucky number. If it is a cold start, you want to go early in the day. If it is a really warm start, you want to be last,” Buser said with the look of a man who has started and finished 38 straight Iditarod races, “Obviously in the third week of June you can’t predict where it is going to be good.”

The big attraction for the mushers however, is that two racers who signed up at the picnic were entered into a raffle to have their $4,000 entry fee refunded. Riley Dyche, who was one of the winners said the money is going right back into the dogs.

“It is a huge relief,” said Dyche with a smile. “It is $4,000, so that is pushing four pallets of dog food. That is a big financial burden that is gone.”

The 50th anniversary of the race is set to be a special one, and you can expect to see some major fanfare leading up to the race, with many super fans not able to participate last year due to the pandemic. For Kristy and Anna Berington, they are just waiting for the snow to fall so they can really get after it.

“We think and talk about it everyday, so it just feels like one day closer,” said Kristy Berington. “It is just that official thing. Here is all my money, signing my name on the thing, it is just that first step into the next season’s race,” said Anna Berington.

Dallas Seavy made history last year tying the record for wins with his fifth title, and is looking to become the first ever to win six. With 287 days until the start of the race, Seavy is already laser focused on his dog team and the race he wants to run, not concerning himself with things he can’t control.

“I will let them sort that out when I get to Kaltag. We will look around and honestly see who we need to worry about, who is six hours ahead of me, who is 15 minutes behind me” Seavy said, “There is no sense in overwhelming yourself with things you can’t do anything about.”

As of right now the Iditarod is set to start on March 5, 2022 and follow the normal route to Nome. Urbach says they are going to cut off the field at 130 mushers.

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