Eddie Burke Jr. looking strong as Rookie of Year contender

Eddie Burke Jr. gunning for Rookie of Year glory, not best hair award
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 10:51 AM AKST
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MCGRATH, Alaska (KTUU) - As a rookie, Anchorage musher Eddie Burke Jr. is having to rely on some experienced teammates in the 51st Iditarod.

The rookie musher training out of Wildstyle Racing Kennel in Nenana is looking to add to his already impressive young mushing resume.

The 33-year-old is coming off a strong year, finishing third in the Kobuk 440 last April and completing the Kuskokwim 300, Yukon Quest 300 and Willow 300.

“Yeah, Rookie of the Year would be a nice little bonus to this all, but there’s more important things as well,” Burke Jr. said Tuesday on the trail.

Burke Jr.’s mushing career started in a unique way after going to the musher’s banquet in Anchorage a few years ago. It wasn’t long before he was running dogs with a very storied musher, Aaron Burmeister.

“We talked some trash to some mushers and next thing you know I’m getting invited out running dogs and along the way I met Aaron, and here I am!” he said.

Half of the dogs that are on Burke Jr.’s team were raised on his own; the other half are from Burmiesters’ kennel.

So far Burke Jr. is doing the dogs justice, keeping up with the front of the pack in Iditarod 51.

“For me to run Aaron’s dogs it’s a great privilege, obviously because they can pick anyone,” he said. “There would be a long line if they put that out there, ‘Hey who wants to come train my team?’ So yeah, it’s definitely an honor and a privilege and it’s something I take pride in.”

While Burke Jr. is showing us that he is a very strong musher, the first thing most notice is his hair. The 33-year-old musher is rocking a mullet that is almost louder than his dog team.

“What a great honor to have the best hair on the trail,” Burke Jr. said. “Hopefully one day, it’ll be my mushing abilities.”