July 30, 2014

Musher Details

2014 Iditarod » Mushers » Martin Buser

Martin Buser

Bib Number: 36
Hometown: Big Lake, Alaska
Website:


Biography

Born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1958, Martin became fascinated with sled dogs while still a teen. He came to Alaska in 1979 to enhance his knowledge of care and training of sled dogs. He began working and training with long-time Alaskan mushers Earl and Natalie Norris and ran his first Iditarod in 1980. Martin and wife Kathy Chapoton, reside in Big Lake, Alaska, where the family owns and manages Happy Trails Kennel. Their sons, Nikolai and Rohn, both named after Iditarod checkpoints, have been involved with dogs at various times in their lives. Nikolai currently resides in Seattle. Rohn lives near the kennel and is currently an integral part of the kennel operation Rohn completed his first Iditarod in 2008, as a senior in high school.

Martin spends a great deal of time speaking in schools on the humanitarian care of animals and the spirit of the Iditarod. A favorite celebrity of the children of Alaska, Martin treats them with surprise visits from his dogs and puppies.

Martin runs the race each year with his dogs to test the success of their breeding, training and physical endurance. He regards his racers as true competitive athletes and prides his team on their longevity and spirit of competition. Says Martin, “I run the Iditarod to prove that my dogs, bred, trained and raced by Happy Trails Kennels, are the best amongst the world’s long distance athletes.” For nine years, Martin’s 2002 team held the record for the Fastest Iditarod by completing the race in 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds.

As tribute to his treatment of his racers, Martin was awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award in 1988, 1993, 1995 and again in 1997 for the most humanitarian care of his dogs. The award was named for the most famous Alaskan musher who ran the longest and most dangerous stretch of the 1925, 674-mile diphtheria serum run from Nenana to Nome, which saved hundreds of lives.

Following Martin’s 2002 Iditarod victory, the process for his becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was completed under the burled monument. He then turned around in Nome and made the trip from Nome to Big Lake with his family by snow machine.

Upon completion of the 2005 Iditarod after a woodworking accident 4 days prior to the race start resulting in the amputation of a part of his finger; he was awarded both the Sportsmanship and Most Inspirational Awards by his fellow mushers.

Martin is an honorary member of Rotary. He is always involved with some project around the kennel or house. While he and Kathy moved into the retirement home that Martin built, they are still working on finishing all the details, your typical Alaskan self-built home that is never quite finished.

In the summer, Martin and his family give tours of their working kennel. The tour begins with a DVD trip from Anchorage to Nome narrated by Buser and includes his unique anecdotal stories gathered over 23 Iditarods. Visitors are offered a glimpse of a mockup of the Cripple Checkpoint complete with campfire and wall tent. Veterinary and dog care topics are discussed and of course, there’s the cuddling of puppies. The tour ends with a riotous symphony of dogs barking as a team is hooked up and taken on a demo run to show folks the dogs in action.

Martin is currently the musher with the most consecutive Iditarod finishes, 29 races completed in row, 30 total finishes. We are looking forward to many more and working diligently toward a fifth Iditarod win. While the race is always the final exam, the year round interaction and relationship with the dogs is the most valuable aspect of this lifestyle. On a daily basis, we are amazed by the stamina, loyalty, honesty, and joy of our dogs. Author Brian Jacques went on a ride with Martin and the team many years ago and described the dogs as “eternal children.” We couldn’t agree more. It is our good fortune to be able to take care of them.

Sponsors

Eagle Pack Natural Pet Food/WellPet, MA
Buser Boosters Everywhere
Tiaga Mushing Supplies
Trappers Creek Smoking Company
Alaska Hand-Elbow-Shoulder Surgical Specialist
Geneva Woods Health Care Services
Diversified Tire

St. Elias Specialty Hospital
A.I.H.
Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital
MTA
Intrado, CO
Kendall Auto Group
Northern Outfitters

Awards

Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian — Sponsored by Alaska Airlines

2014 Standings

Checkpoint Time In Dogs In Time Out Dogs Out Rest Time Previous Layover Status Distance
Enroute Time Speed (mph) 8hr 24hr
Anchorage 3/01 11:14:00 12
Willow 3/02 15:08:00 16
Yentna Station 3/02 18:30:00 16 3/02 18:33:00 16 0h 3m 3h 22m 12.48 42
Skwentna 3/02 21:11:00 16 3/02 21:20:00 16 0h 9m 2h 38m 11.39 30
Finger Lake 3/03 01:54:00 16 3/03 02:19:00 16 0h 25m 4h 34m 8.76 40
Rainy Pass 3/03 05:42:00 16 3/03 09:43:00 16 4h 1m 3h 23m 8.87 30
Rohn 3/03 13:42:00 16 3/03 13:45:00 16 0h 3m 3h 59m 8.79 35
Nikolai 3/04 01:09:00 16 3/05 02:17:00 16 25h 8m 11h 24m 6.58 ✔ 75
McGrath 3/05 07:14:00 16 3/05 07:35:00 15 0h 21m 4h 57m 9.70 ✔ 48
Takotna 3/05 09:38:00 15 3/05 10:17:00 15 0h 39m 2h 3m 8.78 ✔ 18
Ophir 3/05 12:35:00 15 3/05 18:00:00 15 5h 25m 2h 18m 10.00 ✔ 23
Cripple 3/06 03:46:00 15 3/06 08:25:00 15 4h 39m 9h 46m 7.47 ✔ 73
Ruby 3/06 18:44:00 15 3/07 02:44:00 14 8h 0m 10h 19m 6.79 ✔ ✔ 70
Galena 3/07 08:53:00 14 3/07 11:15:00 14 2h 22m 6h 9m 8.13 ✔ ✔ 50
Nulato 3/07 17:38:00 14 3/07 21:34:00 14 3h 56m 6h 23m 5.80 ✔ ✔ 37
Kaltag 3/08 02:00:00 14 3/08 05:34:00 14 3h 34m 4h 26m 10.60 ✔ ✔ 47
Unalakleet 3/08 17:31:00 14 3/08 21:58:00 12 4h 27m 11h 57m 7.11 ✔ ✔ 85
Shaktoolik 3/09 05:27:00 12 3/09 08:32:00 12 3h 5m 6h 29m 6.17 ✔ ✔ 40
Koyuk 3/09 16:20:00 12 3/09 20:48:00 12 4h 28m 7h 48m 6.41 ✔ ✔ 50
Elim 3/10 03:10:00 12 3/10 04:40:00 12 1h 30m 6h 22m 7.54 ✔ ✔ 48
White Mountain 3/10 17:08:00 12 3/11 01:33:00 12 8h 25m 12h 28m 3.69 ✔ ✔ 46
Safety 3/11 12:45:00 12 3/11 12:47:00 12 0h 2m 11h 12m 4.91 ✔ ✔ 55
Nome 3/11 15:58:58 12 3h 11m 6.91 ✔ ✔ 22