Sunday, March 4, 2012 Paul Gebhardt’s team drops onto Long Lake at the restart of Iditarod 2012 in Willow, Alaska. By Jeff Schultz / AlaskaStock.com
The 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officially began on Saturday, but we've decided it's not too late to start covering considering the many Minnesotans involved.
The 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has been off and running since Saturday but, considering the annual event is like most races in that it matters how everyone finishes -- not how everyone starts -- it doesn't seem like it's too late for SB Nation Minnesota to begin its coverage.
Considering the Iditarod trail is in Alaska and not Minnesota, there are probably quite a few confusing looks happening right now as our readers try and figure out the regional significance considering none of the 66 mushers listed on the race's website listed Minnesota as the state they're representing. That's because the majority of the world's top mushers move to Alaska to focus on the sport, but there are quite a few with bloodlines tracing back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
- The top Minnesotan musher, at least in terms of past success, is Willmar native Rick Swenson. Swenson holds the record for most Iditarod races won with five -- in three different decades, no less -- but could be tied this season as Alaska native Lance Mackey is looking for his fifth win as well.
- Three of the 66 mushers in this year's race have Seavey as their last name and all three have Crosby, Minn., ties: Dan Seavey, a 74-year-old musher and the only person to compete in the first and 40th (current) Iditarod; Mitch Seavey, Dan's son and the winner of the 2004 Iditarod; and Dallas Seavey, a third-generation musher who finished in fourth place last season after following in grandpa Dan and father Mitch's footsteps.
- Another perennial contender is Glencoe native Paul Gebhardt. Gebhardt moved to Alaska in 1989 and has been mushing since 1992, taking second place two times in the Iditarod.
- Grand Rapids native Ken Anderson is also competing in this year's Iditarod. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher became part of the first husband and wife due at the Iditarod when wife Gwen competed in a past race.
Of the 66 mushers currently competing in the Iditarod, six of them called Minnesota their home before moving to Alaska to better themselves at their craft. Gebhardt is currently doing the best in the standings, but considering there are at least two more weeks worth of racing, everything is still up in the air.
So let's follow along, have some fun and hopefully learn more about the native Minnesotans as they compete over the next couple of weeks. And yay dogs!