Eye on the Trail: 1st Chapter of 2024

Mushers, Volunteers and Fans Attend Picnic at Headquarters (Photo: Sara Lamont)

The 1st chapter of the 2024 Iditarod and Jr. Iditarod was recorded on Saturday June 24th at the Musher Sign-up and Volunteer Picnic at Headquarters in Wasilla.  The weather cooperated as mushers, race fans and volunteers gathered to enjoy friendship, conversation and the usual delicious fare of grilled burgers and salmon.

Mushers could register for the 2024 races either in person or by sending the paperwork.  Two fortunate Iditarod mushers in attendance would receive a refund of their entry fee.  Jr. Iditarod mushers registered for free.  At the end of the day, four names were on the Jr. Iditarod roster and twenty-six names were on the Iditarod roster.

Who’s in for the junior race?  Two time defending Champion Emily Robinson of Nenana is back to defend her championship once again.  Eva Robinson from Cavalier, ND competed in the 2022 race and is back for a second run.  Ellen Redington, a senior at Redington High School in Wasilla, will be running her fourth and final Junior race.  Isaac Redington, 2023 5th place finisher and Rookie of the year, is returning. 

Champion Ryan Redington signs up to Defend (Photo: Sara Lamont)

Who’s in for Iditarod?  Defending Champion Ryan Redington, former Champion Brent Sass and five time Champion Dallas Seavey head the list.  Together these guys have started thirty-seven runs to Nome, finished 28 and placed in the top ten 18 times.  Ryan began his Iditarod career in 2001, Dallas in 2005 and Brent in 2012 earning Rookie of the Year Honors.  Dallas has a Yukon Quest Championship and Brent has four Quest Championships.  Ryan has won the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon twice.

Jessie Holmes signs up for Iditarod 2024 (Photo: Iditarod Staff)

Included in the 2024 roster are five of the 2023 top ten – Ryan Redington – 1st, Matt Hall – 4th, Jessie Holmes – 5th, Rookie of the Year Eddie Burke, Jr – 7th and Mille Porsild – 9th. 

Last year’s Red Lantern recipient, Jason Mackey, is back.  Mackey also received the Most Inspirational Musher for 2023 which included his entry fee for the 2024 race.

Last year’s Humanitarian Award recipient, Deke Naaktgeboren, would receive his 2024 entry as part of the Humanitarian Award presented by Pike Dog Wellness First Initiative.  Deke hasn’t signed up as of yet but he has until November 30th.

Hunter Keefe, the guy who sang and danced his way down the trail and helped Eddie Burke, Jr. who had lost his team then earned the Donlin Gold Sportsmanship Award for all of the aforementioned reasons is back.  Keefe and Burke had a neck and neck race for Rookie of the Year Honors which went to Burke in 7th place.  Keefe finished in 11th.

Of the twenty-six mushers, eight are rookies.  Gabe Dunham is the sole 2nd year rookie.  She attempted the race in 2020 but scratched in Unalakleet with 12 dogs in harness.  Gabe returns to take care of unfinished business. 

Four mushers in the field are from outside of the United States – Mille Porsild from Denmark, Matts Pettersson from Sweden, Rob Cooke and Connor McMahon both from the Yukon Territory of Canada.  Four contestants are from the lower 48 – Jessie Royer from Montana, Isaac Teaford from Utah, Bryce Mumford from Idaho and Erin Altemus from Minnesota.

Now comes the announcement you’ve all been reading for – the winners of the two entry fees for 2024.  Both went to veteran racers.  Drum roll please.  Da-dum-da-dum… The first name drawn was Brent Sass!  The second name drawn was Eddie Burke, Jr.!

Registration for Iditarod LII continues through the 30th of November.  Comeback often to see who enters the race between now and then.  Keep an eye on musher profile information found under the Race Center tab at Iditarod.com.  Jr. Iditarod contestants can be found at jriditarod.org.  The Jr. Iditarod starts on the last Saturday of February.  Iditarod starts on the first Saturday of March, 250 days from today!