Sunday, December 4, 2011

Many familiar faces in line for Iditarod 40.

November 30th marked the deadline to complete and file paperwork to sign up for Iditarod 40. Many of last year's race's key players are back, such as Lance Mackey, Dallas Seavey, and - of course- current Champion John Baker. There are also a few suprises on the list that has the mushing fan community buzzing. If anything, Iditarod 40 will be one to remember.
Mitch Seavey returns after being forced to withdraw due to injury. Martin Buser started last year's race off very well but fell far back in the standings by the finish, he has also thrown his hat in the ring again this year. Perrenial favorites Paul Gebhardt and DeeDee Jonrowe will also be racing. Missing from the list of who's who of the Iditarod is Rick Swenson who - as of December 5 - is not listed on the Official Roster. Sebastian Schnuelle and Hans Gatt are also off the list, the latter having announced his retirement. Schnuelle is reportedly taking a break to spend sometime outside with family and friends.

The surprise of the summer was the return of Jeff King. Jeff made his intentions known when he appeared at the Volunteer picnic at the Wasilla Headquarters and signed up for the race. King did not race in the previous year's race, having stated he was retired. Jeff is running a smaller kennel and group of dogs, according to his comments in the press and online, but he cannot be counted out. This four time champion knows what it takes, and he's had a year to get a fresh perspective.

The other big surprise is the addition of Dan Seavey to the list. Dan ran in the very first Iditarod - and is credited as one of the mushers that helped make it a reality -  Dan is now 74 years old. His best finish was third in that first race. No doubt this is mainly a nod to the race itself. Dan is the only alum of that first race to be coming back. Dan is the father of 2004 Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey and Grandfather to Yukon Quest Champion and Iditarod Veteran Dallas Seavey. Dan is the patriarch of one of the Iditarod dynasties. It will be exciting to see what he will bring to Iditarod 40.

Entries are still trickling in by mail. As long as the packets are postmarked by November 30. There are 67 names on the official roster. Alaska Dispatch has the list at 69, and they have Rick Swenson among the entrants. Do they know something doesn't?

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