On Saturday, December 18, the 2021 Iditarod Rookie Musher Meeting took place via ZOOM. An Iditarod “rookie” is someone who hasn’t completed the Iditarod. As of the writing of this article, there are 15 rookie mushers signed up for Iditarod 2021.They hail from Alaska, Wisconsin, and even Canada and France.
Four of them are returning from a previous year to make another run for the finish. None of them are inexperienced. Besides the qualifying race requirements, some of these rookies have knowledge gained from working with seasoned Iditarod mushers such as Kathleen Frederick, Martin Buser, Linwood Fiedler, Lance Mackey, Ken Anderson, Jason Campeau, Mitch Seavey, Rick Mackey and Jeff King.
Last year’s champion, Thomas Waerner, gave an uplifting message of the amazing experience of racing the Iditarod and a directive for mushers to make sure they take care of themselves so they are able to give the best care to their dogs. Throughout the day, vital information was shared about many aspects of the race from logistics to the roles of the Iditarod Air force, the Iditarod Education Department, trailbreakers, trail sweeps, and the COMMS volunteers. Thanks to Dr. Stu Nelson and his team as well as Aaron Burmeister for supporting these mushers in regards to vet checks, dog care and nutrition.
The last part of the meeting was an open discussion where veteran mushers fielded questions and offered advice and encouragement. Thanks to Al Eischens, Wade Marrs, Anna and Kristy Berington, Matt Failor, and Aliy Zirkle. They were generous in sharing training and racing tips regarding sled packing, how to orchestrate 24-hour layovers, focusing on the dogs, being self-sufficient and practicing exactly what they will do along the route.
The overwhelming sentiment of the veteran group was for the rookie mushers to embrace the changes of the route, commit to it, and enjoy it for what it is – an epic dog race through remote and majestic Alaskan wilderness.
No doubt these Iditarod rookies ended their day with their heads swimming with knowledge and encouragement; we wish them the best for their race this year!
Introducing the 2021 Rookie Mushers. Click on their names to see their musher profiles.
Sebastian Dos Santos Borges, Jennifer Campeau, Gabe Dunham, Hal Hanson, Joanna Jagow, Brenda Mackey, Joshua McNeal, Quince Mountain, Christopher Parker, Dakota Schlosser, Chad Stoddard, Will Troshnynski, Susannah Tuminelli, Sean Underwood, and Sean Williams.