Iditarod Special Awards

2020 Iditarod 


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 chute.

  • Gail Phillips

Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Alaska Award

First presented in 2019 and was given to the first musher to reach the McGrath checkpoint. Last year’s recipient received beaver mitts and musher hat made by residents of McGrath.

  • Jessie Royer

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 in the odd years when the race follows the southern trail from Ophir to Kaltag, and Cripple in the even years when the northern trail is followed. 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 brand-new smartphone with a year of free service. 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.

  • Brent Sass Time 09:54

The Lakefront Anchorage First Musher to the Yukon Award

Presented since 1983, the award is given to the first musher to the Yukon. (Ruby northern route, Anvik southern route). The winning musher receives a five-course, gourmet dinner prepared at the checkpoint by The Lakefront Anchorage executive chef, $3,500 in one-dollar bills, and a bottle of Dom Perignon.

  • Jessie Royer

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.

  • Jessie Royer

Ryan Air Gold Coast Award

This was first presented in 1987 and again in 1988. After not having a Gold Coast Award for four years, the National Bank of Alaska (now Wells Fargo Bank Alaska) began sponsoring the award in 1993. Ryan Air, began sponsoring this award in 2019 and is given to the first musher to reach the Unalakleet checkpoint. The winning musher receives $1,500 in gold nuggets and a carved ivory dog sled team.

  • Thomas Waerner

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.

  • Thomas Waerner

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. 

  • Mille Porsild

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. 

  • Pete Kaiser Time 02:47

Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Official Truck Award

This award has been presented to the Iditarod champion since 1991. The Iditarod Champion will be awarded a new 2020 RAM 1500 4×4 pickup truck valued at $40,000. Owner, Rod Udd of Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has been the sole sponsor of this award since 2002. He passed away in 2017 and the Iditarod appreciates his years of contributions to the race.

  • Thomas Waerner

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 honors the final team’s dedication to fulfilling their goal of safely and successfully crossing under the burled arch despite unexpected challenges.

  • Kaci Murringer

Matson 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. 

  • Tim Pappas 51st in 2016 to 20th in 2020 (his next Iditarod)

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.

  • Martin Buser

Most Inspirational Musher Award

Presented since 2010 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.

  • Martin Buser

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 from Unalakleet to Nome who best epitomizes Herbie Nayokpuk’s spirit of mushing the Iditarod. The winner receives $1,049 in pocket change in a Northern Air Cargo jacket. 

  • Aaron Burmeister

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. 

  • Shaktoolik

Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award

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. Recipient receives an engraved lead crystal trophy and a paid entry fee for the next year’s race.

  • Aliy Zirkle

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 ushers, in 1977. Lolly Medley died in August 1996. The award continues in her honor now presented by the City of Nome. 

  • K2 and Bark, Thomas Waerner Team

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. At the banquet in Nome, a 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. 

  • Jessie Royer


Iditarod Special Awards Archive