Jr. Iditarod Prepares For 40th Running


Fourteen young mushers have signed up for the 40th running of the Jr. Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The race will start on February 25th, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at Knik Lake and end on February 25th at the Willow Community Center. An awards banquet will be held that evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Community Center. The number for race updates is 907-360-3622. Updates will also be on the Jr. Iditarod website: www.iditarod.com

The mushers, who are between the ages of 14 and 17, will compete in the 160-mile distance sled dog race. Only four mushers in this year’s field are veterans of the Jr. Iditarod.  

The race route is over the historic Iditarod Trail, from Wasilla to the Yentna Station Roadhouse on the Yentna River. The mushers will go from Knik Lake to Eagle Song Lodge on Trail Lake and to the Yentna Station Roadhouse, where they will overnight. After a ten-hour layover, they will begin the trek back to the community center through Eagle Song and then the route will change because they are finishing in Willow. The first musher is expected to reach the finish line between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and the other mushers will be coming in throughout the day. 

The Race Marshall is Meredith Mapes, Wasilla, who ran the Jr. Iditarod four times, 2008-2011. 

Stan and Sally Smith have been chosen as this year’s honorary mushers. Stan has been a trail breaker for many years and Sally has volunteered in many years. 

In addition to being Alaska’s premier long-distance sled dog race for youth, the event provides scholarship awards for first through fifth place as well as scholarship money for the winners of the Humanitarian and Sportsmanship awards. Scholarship money will be provided this year by the Iditarod Trail Committee. First prize is $5,000, second is $2,500, third is $1,500, fourth is $1,000 and fifth is $500. Winners of the two awards will each take home a $1,000 scholarship. 

A list with each entrant’s start number follows: 

2. MacKenzie Davis, Wasilla            16. Garry McKeller, Wasilla
3. Ava Linder, Two Rivers                17. David May, Trapper Creek
4. Megan Hedgecoke, Two Rivers   18. Jeff Holt, North Pole
5. Gerald Outwater, Kotzebue         19. Kristen Crain, Talkeetna
6. Wade Marrs, Wasilla                    20. Quinn Iten, Kotzebue
7. Cain Carter, Kasilof                       21. Ilsa Schwarzburg, Wasilla
8. Jessica Klejka, Bethel                  22. Melissa Owens, Nome
9. Michael Miller, Nome                   23. Ellen King, Denali
10. Daniel Osmar, Ninilchik              24. Jesse DeLoach, Trapper Creek
11. Amanda Olson, Talkeetna           25. Rebekah Ruzicka, Anchor Point
12. Michael Owens, Nome               26. Charlie Alison, Talkeetna
13. Rohn Buser, Big Lake                27. Patrick Mackey, Soldotna
14. Chrystiene Salesky, Nome
15. Matthew Durden, Wasilla