Diana Haecker, APRN – Nome
Hundreds of people lined Nome’s Front Street to watch as Kotzebue musher John Baker won this year’s Iditarod Trail sled dog race.
Baker and his ten dogs made their way up under the burled arch in Nome at 9:46 this morning. He is the first Alaska Native musher to win the Iditarod since Jerry Riley did it in 1976. Along with Baker’s family, race officials and selected media, drummers and singers with the band Pamuya were on hand to provide the soundtrack to an emotional finish that had Baker’s family in tears.
This was Baker’s 16th Iditarod Trail sled dog race. He has made the top 10 in 11 races. He also made history today by setting a new race record of eight days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds on the trail. Baker shaved exactly four hours off the record set in 2002 by Martin Buser. But Baker said he didn’t set out to break any records.
Baker says he didn’t let himself contemplate winning while he was out on the trail.
After Baker was checked in and signed off on having finished the race, sponsor dignitaries handed him his $50,400 winner’s check and the key to a brand new Dodge Ram truck.
Ramey Smyth came in second, arriving 64 minutes after Baker. Hans Gatt was the third to make it into Nome at 3:20 pm.
Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage
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