The competitive spirit of Iditarod Mushers

by Peter Twitchell

As I advance in elderhood I look at the world with open eyes savoring each moment and everything has greater meaning for me. One such event is the 1000 mile longest sled dog race in the world “The Iditarod Sled Dog Race” from Anchorage to Nome.

I watched the beginning of the ceremonial start of the race from Anchorage to Nome Saturday, March 04, 2023. As the song goes, “The race is on and here comes, Michael Williams Jr. and Pete Kaiser,” on the back stretch!!

I wish all of them mushers a good run to the finish line and those on the trail, another memory to add to their thousand mile journey in life.

The mushers and dog teams have our greatest admiration and respect for their competitive spirit in the bitter cold of Alaska. They leave the comforts of home, a warm kitchen and hot food to run the 1 thousand mile race in the harsh cold. I believe it is the toughest race a man and woman and dogs indulge in their life.

I get cold and shiver stepping out of a hot shower. It also brings to mind our ancestors and the endurance of long ago living in the bitter cold of winter without the comforts of modern technology or warm clothing for extreme cold and a nice warm dwelling. It’s a good lesson – you have to be physically fit in mind, body, and spirit, to compete in the toughest race the world.

I want to recognize a few of the great men and women who have run The Iditarod sled dog race.

The first woman to win the Iditarod Sled Dog race was Libby Riddles In 1985. And the first woman to ever enter and finish the race was Mary Shields. Our own Dee Dee Jonrowe ran against all odds, entered and finished the race more than once, crossing under the Arches in Nome.

She was our neighbor in Bethel, Alaska and worked at the radio station KYUK, and volunteered her time in community service. Thank you Dee Dee Jonrowe.

All those who ever ran the Iditarod sled dog race deserve recognition and they have it in their families and communities they lived in. Some names I was able to gather include but not limited to Lance Mackey; a great man considered the “Grandfather of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race” Joe Redington, Rod Perry, Ken Chase, Aily Zirkle, Rick Mackey, Ray Redington. Jr., Dallas Seavey, Martin Buster, and Mitch Seavey.

Rick Mackey ran from 1970 to 2022; Martin Buser had 4 Consecutive wins. Ramey Smyth was a contender each year of the Iditarod!! And last but not least Susan Butcher. I might add there will be many more to follow in years to come.