Eye on the Jr: 47th Jr. Iditarod Underway

2024 Jr. Iditarod Field of 21 Mushers (Photo by Whitney McLaren)

The 47th Jr. Iditarod is underway.  Twenty-one mushers are on the trail heading to the half-way checkpoint at Yentna Station on the big bend of the Yentna River.  The checkpoint is hosted by the Gabryszaks at their wilderness roadhouse/lodge.  Mushers will camp with their dogs along the banks of the Yentna River, serving the required 10 hour layover plus start differential. The first teams to arrive will care for their dogs, then build a large bonfire for all the mushers to gather round during the layover, making new friends and renewing old friendships.  Teams will return to Knik Lake along the same trail for a total trip of 150 miles. 

Handlers Assist Arien Sanderson for Her Countdown (Photo by Whitney McLaren)

You’d have to go all the way back to 2007 to find a larger field – 26 mushers.  There are 9 rookies and 12 veterans from inside and outside of Alaska.  Two flags, representing the home countries of the mushers hang with the start banner – one for the United States and one for Norway. Rookie Ylva-li Næss hails from Meeker, Norway.  

2024 Jr. Iditarod Mushers Huddle Before the Start. (Photo by Whitney McLaren)

Snow has been plentiful in the Mat-Su Valley this winter.  It was no surprise when Mother Nature delivered more snow this morning for the start of the race.  The snowfall didn’t dampen the spirits of the mushers, sled dogs or race fans.  

Arien Sanderson Leads Mushers Off in 2024 Jr. Iditarod (Photo by Whitney McLaren)

Seven hours into the race, all the teams have cleared Eagle Quest Checkpoint at mile 43.  The leaders on the trail, Emily Robinson and Morgan Martens, are running within a mile of each other and have roughly 10 miles to reach Yentna.  About twenty miles separate the front and back of the race.

Torleif Bentzen on the Trail in 2024 Jr. Iditarod (Photo by Whitney McLaren)

Enjoy these photos from Whitney McLaren, photographer on the trail.  Whitney, a professional photographer, is often seen with camera in hand at mushing events including the Jr. Iditarod, Copper Basin 300, Yukon Quest and many more.  Visit www.mushingphotos.com to see more of her outstanding work.