Eye on the Trail: Final Five

Benjamin Good Leads Final Five to Finish in Nome (Photo: Insider Video)

Benjamin Good’s first dog powered experience,  skijoring with a couple of Aaron Burmeister’s dogs, resulted in cold feet.  He solved that issue by getting a couple more dogs and a sled so he could where warmer boots.  Good said at the arch early this morning, “While doing dogs and racing, it dawned on me that I could do Iditarod someday.  This year it came together.”   Good is originally from Pennsylvania.  He and his wife moved to Anchorage for a two year adventure in 2002.  They never left and now reside in North Pole, Alaska near Fairbanks.  Good cited the wind coming out of Blueberry Hills and into Shaktoolik as a memorable part of the trail.  “The wind was a real wakeup call – no joke.   That was the only place we had wind.  It perked the dogs up, I was intimidated.  There was not a breath of wind the rest of the trail.”  All of the dogs on Good’s team were born and raised in his kennel except for three he bought as puppies.  Benjamin earned his finisher’s belt buckle by claiming 25th place in 11 days, 12 hours and 42 minutes.

Lauro Eklund Talks to Insider in McGrath (Photo: Insider Video)

Lauro Eklund grew up in Alaska near the Yukon River.  He now resides in Two Rivers near Fairbanks.  His father, Neil, is an Iditarod veteran of the ‘80s.  Lauro and his father operate a tour business, race dogs and use dogs for hunting, trapping and fishing in their subsistence, true Alaskan life style.  During tours, the Eklunds share the ins and outs of the mushing lifestyle from caring for and training dogs to what it takes to live in Alaska’s bush.  Earhart, Mackey and Swingley bloodlines are the basis of the Eklund kennel.  Lauro is a veteran of the 2023 Yukon Quest 550 and also received the sportsmanship award for that race.  Eklund finished in 11 days, 21 hours and 22 minutes.  Now that he has his finisher’s belt buckle, he hopes to continue building his team to compete in future Iditarods. 

Joshua Robbins Completes Race in 27th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

Joshua Robbins, a veteran of multiple tours as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan now calls Willow, Alaska home.  He established Outreach22 in 2021 as a way to bring hope and emotional support to veterans with mental health struggles.  He wanted to use his dog team to uplift veterans in need of support.  At Outreach22, people can learn about mushing and experience the sled dogs in action, witnessing their sweet and hardworking demeanor.   Robbins wore a patriotic parka during the race to represent the veteran community and honor those who fought for the country.  As a rookie his goal was to complete the race and inspire others to try new things and not be afraid of failure.”  Finishing in 27th place with a time of 12 days, 5 hours and 27 minutes, the coveted finisher’s belt buckle is his

Swiss Born Severin Cathry Claims 28th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

Severin Cathry was born and raised in Airolo, Switzerland.  His mushing career developed from his lifelong love for the outdoors and animals.  In the summer of 2010, he came to Alaska for the first time.  That’s when he experienced a real sled dog team and became hooked on the sport.  Severin has earned his finisher’s belt buckle with a time of 12 days, 6 hours and 35 minutes, finishing in 28th place.  He said he especially enjoyed the mountains and the coast.  Cathry praised a wheel-dog that was a power house and vital to getting his sled through the technical stuff on the trail saying, “that dog belongs on the “A” team.”

Red Lantern Recipient Jeff Reid is Happy To Be In Nome (Photo: Insider Video)

Jeff Reid lives in Two Rivers, Alaska and together with his wife and children operate Frozen Trident Kennel.  Jeff enjoyed Gary Paulson’s book Winterdance which sparked an idea – perhaps sled dogs was where he could reconnect with dogs after losing a beloved pet dog.  The Reid family moved to Alaska and Jeff took a job working for Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore at SP kennel.  To establish Frozen Trident, the Reids purchased dogs from SP Kennel and Sebastian Schnuelle.  Reid mentioned a low point on the trail that ultimately made them better.  Between Nulato and Kaltag it was slow, cold and windy.  He said, “They depend on me and I depend on them to get through.  We did and we really gelled.”  His leaders Danny and Secretary did everything he asked and more.  Finishing in 29th place, in a time of 12 days, 11 hours and 22 minutes, Jeff has earned the coveted finisher’s belt buckle and the Lynden “Committed Through the Last Mile” Red Lantern Award.

Lynden “Committed to the Last Mile” Red Lantern Presented to Jeff Reid (Photo: Insider Video)