Musher Details

2011 Iditarod » Mushers » Martin Buser

Martin Buser

Bib Number: 11
Hometown: Big Lake, Alaska


Born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1958, Martin became fascinated with sled dogs while still a teen. He came to Alaska in 1979 to enhance his knowledge of care and training of sled dogs. He began working and training with long-time Alaskan mushers Earl and Natalie Norris and ran his first Iditarod in 1980. Martin and wife Kathy Chapoton, a retired teacher, reside in Big Lake, Alaska, where the family owns and manages Happy Trails Kennel. Their sons, Nikolai and Rohn, both named after Iditarod checkpoints, have been involved with dogs at various times in their lives. Nikolai currently resides in Seattle. Rohn completed three Iditarods, his first Iditarod in 2008, as a senior in high school.

Martin runs the race each year with his dogs to test the success of their breeding, training and physical endurance. He regards his racers as true competitive athletes and prides his team on their longevity and spirit of competition. For nine years, Martin’s 2002 team held the record for the fastest Iditarod by completing the race in 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds.

As a tribute to his treatment of his racers, Martin was awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award an unprecedented five times, in 1988, 1993,1995, 1997 and again in 2014 for the most humanitarian care of his dogs. The award was named for the most famous Alaskan musher who ran the longest and most dangerous stretch of the 1925, 674-mile diphtheria serum run from Nenana to Nome, which saved hundreds of lives.

Following Martin’s 2002 Iditarod victory, the process for his becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was completed under the burled monument. He then turned around in Nome and made the trip from Nome to Big Lake with his family by snowmachine.

Upon completion of the 2005 Iditarod after a woodworking accident 4 days prior to the race start resulting in the amputation of a part of his finger; he was awarded both the Sportsmanship and Most Inspirational Awards by his fellow mushers.

Martin is an honorary member of Rotary. He is always involved with some project around the kennel or house. While he and Kathy moved into the retirement home that Martin built, they are still working on finishing all the details, your typical Alaskan self built home that is never quite finished. Martin is on the Board of Directors of the Blood Bank of Alaska and has donated over 11 gallons of blood!

In the summer, Martin and his family give tours of their working kennel. The tour begins with a DVD trip from Anchorage to Nome narrated by Buser and includes his unique anecdotal stories gathered over 33 Iditarods. Visitors are offered a glimpse of a mock-up of the Cripple Checkpoint complete with campfire and wall tent. Veterinary and dog care topics are discussed and of course, there’s the cuddling of puppies. The tour ends with a riotous symphony of dogs barking as a team is hooked up and taken on a demo run to show folks the dogs in action.

Mile by Mile: Martin Buser’s Iditarod is a newly revised video. In partnership with Jeff Schultz and Sprocketheads, LLC and Little Frog Video, a unique journey from Anchorage to Nome with some of the most spectacular images ever assembled in a DVD was created. With a combined 54 years on the trail, Jeff’s photos and Martin’s trail stories make it possible for you to “be there” on the back of the sled! The video now includes insight into life with sled dogs.

Martin tailors motivational speeches on many topics to large and small audiences in and outside Alaska. Some titles include:
• “You’re Only As Fast As Your Slowest Dog: Elevating the Entire Team for Maximum Performance”
• “Capitalizing on Extreme Challenges”
• “Travelogue Alaska: Negotiating 1000+ miles with a Dog Team”, “Work Hard, Never Quit, the Mantra for Life in the Last Frontier(or anywhere else for that matter)”

Martin is currently the musher with the most consecutive Iditarod finishes, 36 races completed in row, 38 total finishes. He is a four-time Iditarod champion winning the race 1992, 1994, 1997 and 2002. While the race is always the final exam, the year round interaction and relationship with the dogs is the most valuable aspect of this lifestyle. On a daily basis, we are amazed by the stamina, loyalty, honesty, and joy of our dogs. Author Brian Jacques went on a ride with Martin and the team many years ago and described the dogs as “eternal children.” We couldn’t agree more. It is our good fortune to be able to take care of them.

Martin published DOG MAN: Chronicles of an Iditarod Champion in March 2015. The book is available at our online store at

Martin was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.


Kendall Auto Group
Eagle Pack (now a part of WellPet)
Marylou Whitney
Diversified Tire
Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital
END Polio NOW, Rotary International
Sprocketheads, LLC
Alaska Orthopedic Specialists/Dr. David McGuire

Trapper Creek Smoking Company
Taiga Mushing Supplies, Inc.
Northern Outfitters
Dr. Mike McNamara
Jon/Jona Van Zyle
Susan/Edwin Estes
St. Elias Speciality Hospital
Bowie Outfitters
AIH (Alaska Industrial Hardware


Spirit of Alaska — Sponsored by PenAir

2011 Standings

Checkpoint Time In Dogs In Time Out Dogs Out Rest Time Previous Layover Status Distance
Enroute Time Speed (mph) 8hr 24hr
Anchorage 3/05 10:19:00 12
Willow 3/06 14:18:00 16
Yentna Station 3/06 17:47:00 16 3/06 17:49:00 16 0h 2m 3h 29m 12.92 45
Skwentna 3/06 20:29:00 16 3/07 01:33:00 16 5h 4m 2h 40m 12.75 34
Finger Lake 3/07 05:55:00 16 3/07 05:58:00 16 0h 3m 4h 22m 10.31 45
Rainy Pass 3/07 14:35:00 16 3/07 14:38:00 16 0h 3m 8h 37m 3.48 30
Rohn 3/07 18:09:00 16 3/08 00:25:00 16 6h 16m 3h 31m 13.65 48
Nikolai 3/08 08:05:00 16 3/08 12:31:00 16 4h 26m 7h 40m 9.78 75
McGrath 3/08 17:55:00 16 3/08 17:56:00 15 0h 1m 5h 24m 10.00 54
Takotna 3/08 20:16:00 15 3/09 22:00:00 15 25h 44m 2h 20m 7.71 ✔ 18
Ophir 3/10 00:05:00 15 3/10 00:15:00 14 0h 10m 2h 5m 12.00 ✔ 25
Iditarod 3/10 10:41:00 14 3/10 18:32:00 14 7h 51m 10h 26m 8.63 ✔ 90
Shageluk 3/11 02:48:00 14 3/11 02:49:00 14 0h 1m 8h 16m 7.86 ✔ 65
Anvik 3/11 06:51:00 14 3/11 14:51:00 13 8h 0m 4h 2m 6.20 ✔ ✔ 25
Grayling 3/11 17:33:00 13 3/11 17:34:00 13 0h 1m 2h 42m 6.67 ✔ ✔ 18
Eagle Island 3/12 02:44:00 13 3/12 07:52:00 13 5h 8m 9h 10m 6.55 ✔ ✔ 60
Kaltag 3/12 19:30:00 13 3/13 05:19:00 13 8h 49m 11h 38m 6.02 ✔ ✔ 70
Unalakleet 3/13 17:57:00 13 3/14 00:51:00 11 6h 54m 12h 38m 7.12 ✔ ✔ 90
Shaktoolik 3/14 07:17:00 11 3/14 13:30:00 11 6h 13m 6h 26m 6.53 ✔ ✔ 42
Koyuk 3/14 20:33:00 11 3/15 04:27:00 11 7h 54m 7h 3m 6.81 ✔ ✔ 48
Elim 3/15 10:57:00 11 3/15 12:55:00 11 1h 58m 6h 30m 7.38 ✔ ✔ 48
White Mountain 3/15 20:30:00 11 3/16 04:52:00 11 8h 22m 7h 35m 6.07 ✔ ✔ 46
Safety 3/16 12:34:00 11 3/16 12:38:00 11 0h 4m 7h 42m 7.14 ✔ ✔ 55
Nome 3/16 16:03:38 11 3h 25m 6.44 ✔ ✔ 22