Iditarod Special Awards

2024 Iditarod Special Awards


Honorary Musher

Leonhard Seppala was honored as the number one musher through 1979. In 1980, the Iditarod Committee decided to have “Wild Bill” Shannon share the honor. Since then, the directors have chosen a person or persons, not necessarily mushers, who have made a significant contribution to the sport of sled dog racing. The Honorary Musher is listed as the first one out of the starting line.


Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award

First presented in 2019 and given to the first musher to reach the McGrath checkpoint, this award will now be given to the first musher to reach the Nikolai checkpoint starting in 2024.  The Nikolai community has strong ties to Iditarod and special gifts of Beaver fur musher’s mitts with beadwork on moose hide (handmade by Loretta Maillelle), a beaver fur hat (handmade by Oline Petruska) as well as a Pendelton wool blanket from Alaska Air Transit will be presented to the first musher who reaches the Nikolai checkpoint. 

GCI Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award

While there was obviously a “first musher to the halfway point” in every race, there are no records of who that person was prior to 1980 when the first Halfway Award was presented. GCI became the sponsor of this award in 1994. The winning musher receives the award on the spot and then it is symbolically presented in Nome. This award, given in honor of the late “Mother of the Iditarod,” is presented in Iditarod, when following the Southern route in the odd years, and Cripple, when following the Northern route in even years. The first musher to the halfway point on the Iditarod Trail will receive a trophy and his/her choice of $3,000 in gold nuggets symbolic of the history of this interior area of the Iditarod Mining District or a brand-new smartphone with a year of free service from GCI. A beautiful perpetual trophy made of Alaskan birch and marble and featuring a photograph of the late Dorothy G. Page remains year-round at Iditarod headquarters.


First Musher to the Yukon Award

Presented since 1983, the award will be given to the first musher to arrive in Ruby in even years on the Northern Route and the first musher to arrive to the Yukon River in odd years on the Southern Route. The winning musher will receive a gourmet dinner prepared by Top Chefs from Locally Grown Restaurants, which owns the popular Anchorage eateries Spenard Roadhouse, Snow City Cafe, Crush Wine Bistro and South Restaurant and Coffeehouse.


Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award

This award has been presented by Bristol Bay Native Corporation since 2014 to the first musher to reach the Kaltag checkpoint. The musher will receive a check for $2,000 and 25 pounds of Bristol Bay salmon.

Ryan Air Gold Coast Award

This was first presented in 1987. Ryan Air began sponsoring this award in 2019 and for this year it will be given to the first musher to reach the Unalakleet checkpoint. The winning musher receives $1,500 in gold nuggets and a carved ivory sled dog team.


Northrim Bank Achieve More Award

This award was first given out in 2018. Northrim Bank presented the award to the first musher to reach the White Mountain checkpoint. Winner receives a check for $2,500 and a one-of-a-kind print.

Nome Kennel Club Fastest Time from Safety to Nome 

One of the longest-standing awards to an Iditarod musher is presented by the Nome Kennel Club. The club awards $500 to the musher who finishes in the top 20 and has the fastest time from Safety to Nome.

Howard Farley Sr. Memorial award presented by the Nome Kennel Club

Introduced this year by the NKC in memory of the late Howard Farley Sr., this award honors perserverance on the trail. All finishers who do not place in the Top 20 will be entered for their chance to win $500. 

Rookie of the Year Award

There has obviously been a top finishing rookie in every Iditarod. In fact, rookies won the first three races. It wasn’t until 1976 that the top-finishing rookie was not the winner. For purposes of this award, a rookie is defined as a musher racing his/her first Iditarod. The top-placing rookie receives a beautiful trophy, along with a check for $2,000. 


Lynden “Committed through the Last Mile” Red Lantern Award

The Red Lantern Award acts as a symbol of perseverance for the Iditarod. According to historians, awarding the red lantern for the last place finisher has become an Alaska tradition in sled dog racing. The award of $1000, presented by Lynden, is given to the final team to cross the finish line in recognition of their perseverance and commitment to completing the job despite unexpected challenges.


Most Improved Musher Award

The concept for an award for the most improved musher began in 1987, when the mushers honored Ted English. English had finished 18th in his second race and eight the following year. The winner receives $2,000 in cash and a commemorative trophy. 



Donlin Gold Sportsmanship Award

A sportsmanship award was initiated in 1977 by the Alaska Native Brotherhood to honor Native musher Ken Chase. The ANB continued to present the Ken Chase Sportsmanship Award through 1982. Since then, the award has been presented by the Iditarod Trail Committee, and various other sponsors, to the person chosen by his/her peers as the best sportsman on the trail. In 2015, Donlin Gold began sponsoring the award. The winner will receive a $3,000 check and a plaque.



Hilcorp Alaska Most Inspirational Musher Award

Presented since 1986 to the most inspirational musher, the recipient of the Most Inspirational Musher Award is chosen by fellow mushers. Winner receives a paid entry fee for the following year’s Iditarod.



Northern Air Cargo Herbie Nayokpuk Memorial Award

This award began in 2007 and is awarded to the individual chosen by the checkers in the checkpoints who best epitomizes Herbie Nayokpuk’s spirit of mushing the Iditarod. The winner receives $1,049 in pocket change and a Northern Air Cargo jacket. 



Golden Clipboard Award

The annual Golden Clipboard Award is presented by the Iditarod official finishers to the checkpoint the mushers feel is the most helpful along the trail.



Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award presented by the Pike Dog Wellness First Initiative

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. Starting in Iditarod 2023, this award is now presented by the Pike Dog Wellness First Initative. Recipient receives an engraved lead crystal trophy and a paid entry fee for the next year’s race.



City of Nome Lolly Medley Memorial Golden Harness Award

Lolly Medley, Wasilla harness maker and one of only two women to run the second Iditarod in 1974, began presenting a golden harness to an outstanding lead dog chosen by the mushers, in 1977. Lolly Medley died in August 1996. The award continues in her honor now presented by the City of Nome. 



Northern Air Cargo 4-wheeler drawing

This award was started in 2008 by Northern Air Cargo, who wanted to present something every musher would have a chance to win.  For this year a virtual key is presented to each musher who then tries to start the 4-wheeler with their key. There is only one right key and the one who starts the 4-wheeler wins.