Today marks the ceremonial start of the 35th Iditarod, the last great race on earth. Look to five former winners for a hint about who might win this year’s race:
Anchorage, AK- Four living mushers have combined to win exactly half of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races ever contested. But don’t expect the likes of Martin Buser, Jeff King, Rick Swenson or Doug Swingley to run away and hide in 2007.
Although 2006 Iditarod winner Jeff King has never repeated as champion, the oldest Iditarod winner at 50 years old thinks he has what it takes to join Rick Swenson as the race’s only five-time champion.
“I know I’m at the top of my game,” said King at Thursday night’s musher banquet and start draw. “I can feel it. I won’t get any better than I am right now.”
Fellow four-time champion Martin Buser also has reason to feel confident after beating King to win this year’s Kuskokwim 300. That race is usually a good indicator and could serve notice that Buser is back into contention after finishing 23rd in 2006.
“I’m committed to my home life and my family, that I don’t venture out to travel much,” said Buser of his good early season training in Big Lake. “If we have good conditions, I’m able to get good training in.”
Both four-time winners will have their hands full trying to defeat Robert Sorlie. Back in the field after taking 2006 off, the Norwegian has won an unprecedented 2-of-3 Iditarods he has entered. This year, Sorlie brings 12 dogs to Alaska that have the potential to run in front.
Legendary musher Susan Butcher, four time Iditarod winner and once the dominant competitor in the sport, lost her battle with leukemia last August. Today was proclaimed Susan Butcher Day and she was given bib #1—this year’s competitors’ bibs will be numbered starting with 2.
The official start of the race will be tomorrow. Coverage begins at 5:45pm EST. As an Iditarod InsiderTM subscriber I know I’ll be glued to the streaming video. I’ll be reporting on the race nearly every day. Stay tuned.
Good additional resources for Iditarod information include:
Cross-posted at The Glittering Eye