Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seventeen Iditarods in the making: John Baker is Champion

Long time Iditarod Veteran John Baker saw his dreams turn to reality when he rode into Nome at 9:46 this morning. He is only the second Native Alaskan musher to win the very Alaskan race (the first was Emmitt Peters in 1975) and is the first Eskimo musher to win. The Kotzebue musher has been a fan and musher favorite for years, and even second place Ramey Smith was heard saying "If I had to lose, I'd want it to be to [John]." He's the every musher, a humble, soft spoken, great guy. Who doesn't want the good guy to win? Not only did Baker defy the odds to win, he shattered Martin Buser's fastest time record.

Baker was met by Elders of his community as well as his wife and children. He pulled his wife and daughter into an embrace first off, and his wife sobbed tears of joy. Baker was all business, and almost stoic, as the officials went over his team and his sled checking off the required gear and care. With the signing of his last sheet, Baker was announced as the Iditarod Champion 2011. The Crowd errupted again in cheers (Bruce Lee commented that it was the largest ovation of any musher he could remember). John was a picture of grace and humility as he was pulled in all different directions for pictures, awards, and speeches.

Ramey Smith was second coming in about an hour after Baker's historic win, and is happy he'll get to have a real night's sleep. Hans Gatt came soon after, and Dallas Seavey was fourth. More and more are spilling in, in the fastest run Iditarod to date.

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