Awards handed out at the Iditarod Banquet in Nome

Iditarod Banquet
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 8:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Now that the Red and Widow Lanterns have been extinguished and all the mushers are off the trail, they gather in Nome for a banquet to give out awards.

Alaska Air Transit Spirit of the Iditarod Award: Aaron Burmeister

Burmeister won the award for being the first musher to reach the McGrath checkpoint. He was awarded a pair of handmade musher beaver mittens, as well as a beaver hat.

GCI Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award: Brent Sass

The Lakefront Anchorage First Musher to the Yukon Award: Brent Sass

Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award: Brent Sass

Ryan Air Gold Coast Award: Brent Sass

Northrim Bank Achieve More Award: Brent Sass

For winning these awards Sass earned a total of $12,000 among other items gifted by the sponsors.

“It’s still pretty surreal, lets just put it that way. When you work at something for so long and it’s all the sudden there it’s quite amazing.” Sass said.

Nome Kennel Club Fastest Time from Safety to Nome: Joar Leifseth Ulsom

Leifseth Ulsom completed the run from Safety to Nome in just 2 hours and 26 seconds.

Rookie of the Year: Hannah Lyrek

Read more about the 22-year-old and her family passion for racing here.

“Committed through the Last Mile” Red Lantern Award: Apayauq Reitan

Most Improved Musher Award: Chad Stoddard

Donline Gold Sportsmanship Award: Travis Beals

Most Inspirational Musher Award: Matt Failor

Failor won this award for his composure and support of other mushers, Failor had to shoot a moose that was threatening not only his team but other teams as well. Failor then field dressed the animal and the meat was donated to the community of Galena near where the incident occurred.

“I’d like to thank my dogs for getting us here and I guess I’d like to thank Mr. Gaston Glock for being such a good engineer and inviting such a reliable pistol, and I hope Galena really enjoyed those tender legs and back straps because I had to keep going,” Failor said.

Northern Air Cargo Herbie Nayokpuk Memorial Award: Martin Bauser

Golden Clipboard Award: All Northern Loop checkpoints for their warm welcome and hospitality

Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award: Dan Kaduce

Kaduce not only finished in the top five for the first time in his career getting fourth place — he also managed to get to the Burled Arch in Nome with all 14 of his dogs. That’s something he said at the finish was more important to him than it was to push for a third place finish.

“A lot of people have been asking me, you know, on such a tough trail year, how can you possible get a full team the entire way and have them in that competitive spot?” Kaduce said. “And you know I’ve tried to put a lot of thought into it and it really isn’t one thing, it’s concentrating on everything.”

City of Nome Lolly Medley Memorial Golden Harness Award: Slater and Morello, Brent Sass’ leaders

Northern Air Cargo 4-wheeler drawing: Chad Stoddard

Every musher at the banquet had the chance to draw a key at random out of a bag and attempt to start a brand new four-wheeler. If the engine started, then the ATV was theirs. Chad Stoddard, last year’s Rookie of the Year and this year’s Most Improved Musher, ended up pulling the lucky key.

Five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, who finished in second place this year, didn’t nab any awards this time around and when it was Seavey’s turn to speak, he doubled down on taking a break from “The Last Great Race.”

“I’m going to keep mushing dogs and having adventures and having experiences and raising puppies, and seeing the next generation of mushers coming up in here like Chad and everyone else in our kennel that’s working there, and busting their tail to help us pursue these dreams,” Seavey said. So we’ll be around it, but it’ll be a few years before we race again.”

Iditarod Veteran and storyteller Howard Farley said it best right at the beginning of the banquet: the 2023 Iditarod starts right now.

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