Eye on the Trail: Iditarod XLVI Awards

The celebration of success for Iditarod finishers was held at the Nome Recreation Center in snowy windy Nome on March 18, 2018.  Why would the weather be any different for the banquet than what it was on the trail during the race?  Mushers with the families, friends, kennel workers as well as race sponsors and race fans gathered to celebrate Joar Leifseth Ulsom as Champion and the journeys of the other fifty-one winners.  A banquet was prepared by Chef’s from the Lakefront Millennium of Anchorage.  The buffet included salads, fruit including Chocolate dipped Strawberries, shrimp, chicken, prime rib and deserts.  Following the meal, the awards were presented and stories were told.  Champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom was honored with the winner’s share of the purse, the Redington Trophy and collars of yellow roses were presented to his leaders – Russeren and Olive.  The race goes down as one that Mother Nature ruled with blizzards, drifting snow and unimaginably slow trails.  The 46th race is history but mushers, the ITC, and each branch of the race – vets, communications, trail help, food drop, volunteer support, education and the Iditarod Air Force are evaluating and planning for the Iditarod XLVII.

Prior to the meal, special recognition was given to the JR Iditarod Champion – Bailey Schaeffer.  Schaeffer captured gold on her third JR race.  Bailey had the special privilege of escorting the Honorary Musher for the Ceremonial Start.  Iditarod Celebrated Joee Redington, Jr. as the Honorary Musher for 2018.  Pam Redington Represented Joee for the 11-mile ceremonial start.  

DeeDee Jonrowe announced her retirement as of the end of Iditarod XLVI.  DeeDee was expecting her final checkpoint to be Nome but she scratch in Rainy Pass.  Jonrowe was experiencing health issue and was concerned she wouldn’t be able to care for her dogs.  With her race ended, Jonrowe flew to checkpoints along the trail and visited with the many friends she’s made over the years.  DeeDee has had a long Iditarod career finishing 33 of  36 Iditarod starts and claiming 16 top 10 finishes.  DeeDee is affectionally known as the Iron Woman of Iditarod.

Howard Farley, who work as an organized from the Nome end of the first Iditarod and many thereafter, honored the first Iditarod Champion and the first lead dog to cross the nome finish line.  Dick Wilmarth won the inaugural Iditarod with a time of 20 days, 49 hours and 41 minutes.  His leader was Hot Foot.  There was no Golden Harness award for the winner’s leader back in those days but Hot Foot was posthumously honored with a golden harness award.

PenAir Spirit of Alaska Award – Mitch Seavey

The PenAir Spirit of Alaska award has been presented since 2000 to the first musher to reach the McGrath checkpoint.

Musher receives: A framed print by legendary Iditarod artist Jon Van Zyle and a $500 flight credit

GCI Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award – Joar Leifseth Ulsom

Presented by GCI since 1994, the 2018 award is given to the first musher to arrive in Iditarod.

Musher receives: $3,000 in gold nuggets and a commemorative trophy

The Lakefront Anchorage First Musher to the Yukon Award – Nicolas Petit

Presented since 1983 and is awarded to the first musher to the Yukon. For the 2018 race route, this award was given at the Anvik checkpoint.

Musher receives: A five course, gourmet dinner prepared at the checkpoint by The Lakefront Anchorage executive chef Roberto Sidro and $3,500 in one-dollar bills served on a commemorative gold pan

Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award – Nicolas Petit

This award has been presented by Bristol Bay Native Corporation since 2014 to the first musher to reach the Kaltag checkpoint.

Musher receives: A $2,000 check and a certificate for 25 pounds of fresh-caught, Bristol Bay salmon

Northrim Bank Achieve More Award – Joar Leifseth Ulsom

In its inaugural year, this award is presented by Northrim Bank to the first musher to the White Mountain checkpoint.

Musher receives: A check for $2,500 and a one-of-a-kind print by Anchorage artist Marianne Wieland

Rookie of the Year Award – Jessie Holmes

This award has been presented since 1980 to the top-placing rookie.

Musher receives: A $2,000 check and commemorative trophy

Seventh place with a time of 9 days, 23 hours, 39 minutes and 40 seconds.

Nome Kennel Club Fastest Time from Safety to Nome – Nicolas Petit

Presented by the Nome Kennel Club since 1973, this awards goes to the musher with the fastest time from the Safety checkpoint to the finish in Nome.

Musher receives: A $500 check and a commemorative trophy

Two hours and nine minutes between the two checkpoints. 

Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Official Truck Award – Joar Leifseth Ulsom

This award has been presented to the Iditarod champion since 1991.

Musher receives: 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 4X4, valued at $40,000

Matson Most Improved Musher Award – Matthew Failor

This award is presented to the musher who bettered his/her previous finish by the most places.

Musher receives: $2,000 in cash and commemorative trophy

Failor improved by 46 places from his 59th place in 2017 to 13th place in the 2018 race.

Donlin Gold Sportsmanship Award – Scott Janssen

Presented since 1977 to the musher demonstrating sportsmanship, the recipient of the Donlin Gold Sportsmanship Award is chosen by fellow mushers.

Musher receives: A $3,000 check and a commemorative trophy

Janssen gave up his own race plans to help fellow musher, Jim Lanier, who was in need of help at the blowhole. Janssen stayed with Lanier until emergency help arrived to evacuate Lannier. Janssen gives credit to his dogs who also went off the trail for finding Lanier.

 Most Inspirational Musher Award – Jessie Royer

Presented since 2010 to the most inspirational musher, the recipient of the Most Inspirational Musher Award is chosen by fellow mushers.

Musher receives: Entry fee for the 2019 Iditarod

Northern Air Cargo Herbie Nayokpuk Memorial Award – Richie Diehl

The Northern Air Cargo Herbie Nayokpuk Memorial Award has been presented since 2007 to the person who emulates “Herbie: The Shishmaref Cannon Ball” in his/her attitude on the trail. The recipient is chosen by race staff and officials.

Musher receives: $1,049 in “pocket change” inside a Northern Air Cargo jacket 

Golden Clipboard Award – Shaktoolik

Presented since 2001 to the most outstanding checkpoint, this award is chosen by the competing mushers and presented by Mark Nordman.

The checkpoint receives: A commemorative plaque

Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award – Aliy Zirkle

Presented since 1982 to a musher that demonstrates outstanding dog care while remaining competitive throughout the race, the recipient of the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award is chosen by the veterinary team.

Musher receives: Entry fee for the 2019 Iditarod and a commemorative trophy

 City of Nome Lolly Medley Memorial Golden Harness Award – Russeren

Originally presented by the late Lolly Medley, a Wasilla harness maker and one of two women to run the second Iditarod in 1974, the recipient is chosen by mushers and is awarded to the most outstanding lead dog.

Musher receives: Embroidered gold-colored harness

Joar Leifseth Ulsom’s lead dog, Russeren (Russian Express), a four-year-old male who led Ulsom’s team to Iditarod gold in 9 days and 12 hours. 

Red Lantern Award – Magnus Kaltenborn

Presented since 1973, the Red Lantern Award is given to the final finisher of the race.

Musher receives: Red lantern trophy

Joar Leifseth Ulsom with the Redington Champion’s Trophy and Winner’s share of the Purse