Middy Johnson; musher & pancake maker, passes away

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 9:11 PM AKST
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A man who was a fixture at the Iditarod Trail checkpoint at Unalakleet has passed away.

Middy Johnson died Wednesday at the age of 53, according to the Iditarod Trail Committee.

Middy was born and raised in Unalakleet, according to the ITC. He started mushing while in seventh grade, and the trail committee says in 2008, he decided to run the Iditarod after having two brothers who ran it in previous years.

"Middy’s grandfather, Henry Ivanoff, was part of the original serum run, having been the one to hand off the serum to Leonhard Seppala" noted a post on the Iditarod Trail Committee's Facebook page.

Middy Johnson was famous for his special sourdough pancakes, which he prepared by the dozen for mushers, visitors and race volunteers at the Unalakleet checkpoint.

Last March, during the 2019 Iditarod, Johnson described to Channel 2 News how the sourdough pancake tradition got started.

"So, I ran the race in 2010, and I'd seen how a lot of other checkpoints operated," Johnson said. "So, the next year, I asked how I can get involved in making our checkpoint more friendly, more fun. So, I said, 'I can do sourdough and bacon, and it went from there and kind of just kept going."

Mark Nordman, the Iditarod race director, said a celebration of life for Middy Johnson is planned for 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23 at the Unalakleet school with a potluck to follow.

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