Yearly Archives: 2009

Iditarod Rookie Michelle Phillips

DSCN0398By Joy Davis, Educational Journalist

Michelle Phillips is no rookie when it comes to racing sled dogs. She has run the challenging Yukon Quest 5 times. In 2008 she finished in 4th place.  This demonstrates that racing sled dogs is a sport where men and women compete equally. She has also been awarded the “Rookie of the Year” in both the Percy DeWolfe and the Copper Basin races.

Michelle resides in Tagish, Yukon Territory, Canada. She and her partner, Ed Hopkins, own and operate Pristine Wilderness Tours. You can visit their website at: They have a son, Keegan. The family has a 55 dog kennel of Alaskan huskies. Michelle learned to race from Ed.

Ed is an accomplished racer himself.  He has been running dogs for 22 years.

In her spare time Michelle likes to read books on a variety of subjects. One of her favorite topics is aromatherapy.

When asked why she likes to race Michelle stated, “I love spending time with the dogs and enjoying the countryside.” Michelle said that she is ready to see new trails and seek new challenges. She thinks that in the Iditarod that the coastline will present its own set of challenges. She is also looking forward to the Dazell Gorge and the Happy Steps.

Michelle is planning to take “feelie hearts” with her on the Iditarod race. Last year on the Quest she did a fundraiser for Hospice Yukon. Michelle said, “Feelie hearts began with a grieving four year old girl whose mother had died. She was given a small, stuffed fabric heart to carry with her, understanding the soft heart neatly tucked in her pocket was proof of her mother’s existence and love for her. It gave her permission to remember and grieve her loss which was far too vast for words alone. The Feelie Heart story has traveled to Hospices around the world, comforting dying people and those who love them.”

We will be looking for good things to come from this adventurous lady. Good luck, Michelle!

* Joy Davis is an educator in Indiana.  The Educational Journalists are teachers working with Iditarod’s Education Department to bring the stories behind the scenes to race fans of all ages.

2009 Iditarod Summer Raffle Winners Are Announced!

Two thousand Iditarod Trail Race Fans vied for the opportunity to win up to $95,500 in prizes including two brand new Dodge Ram pick up trucks from Anchorage Chrysler Dodge.The ten winners were announced at approximately 5 pm Alaska time on September 7th 2009  at the Alaska State Fair.The winners are as follows;

Prize #

Ticket #



Donated By



William Knights

Anchorage Alaska

2009 Dodge Ram SLT “Hemi” 4×4 Quad Cab Pickup with Tow Package, Running Boards, Remote Start & more
Anchorage Chrysler Dodge



Jim and Carol Muth

Palmer Alaska

2009 Qlink Rodeo 400 4×4 ATV with winch Alaska Mining & Diving Supply



Jack Smith

Chugiak Alaska

Alaska Series 12′6″ inflatable boat rated for a 25 hp outboard motor Jim King’s Alaska Series inflatables



Chuck Ardizzone

Eagle River Alaska

Sports Rig Deluxe Trailer “Roof Rack on Wheels” White Spruce Trailer Sales



Jube & Deb Kate

North Pole Alaska

Honda 2 HP Four Stroke Outboard Motor Storm Chasers Marine Services, Inc



Frank Heffernan

Cape Carol Florida

One Way Car Shipment from Tacoma WA. to Anchorage AK. Horizon Lines



Ken Ludy

Wasilla Alaska

Round Trip Airfare for 2 to most PenAir destinations PenAir



Joe Myers

Anchorage Alaska

H2Oasis Season Passes for adult & child H2Oasis Indoor Water Park



Duane Perk

Homer Alaska

First Class Weekend for 2 at Drifters Lodge Kenai River Drifters Lodge



Brenda Crawford

Fairbanks Alaska

2009 Dodge Ram SLT “Hemi” 4×4 Quad Cab Pickup with  Tow Package, Running Boards, Remote Start & More Anchorage Chrysler Dodge

Thanks to all 2,000-ticket purchasers for taking part in “The Last Great Race on Earth”!

2009 Winter Raffle Tickets on sale October 1st, 2009

Call 1-800-545-6874 or stop by the 5thAve Mall or Iditarod Headquarters to purchase one.


THE IDITAROD TRAIL COMMITTEE is proud to announce that the 2010 Seppala Heritage Grant recipient is William “Middy” Johnson of Unalakleet Alaska. The Forty-three year old Johnson has extensive experience both as an Iditarod volunteer and dog handler for his brother Paul, who participated in the 1986 Iditarod.  He also sports a long family history of dog mushing.  His grandfather, Henry Ivanoff, was a participant in the original Serum Run in 1925.

Johnson received $10,000 from the Seppala Heritage Grant Committee to help fund his efforts toward running the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  The Grant Selection Committee consisted of Former Iditarod musher Dan Seavey from Seward Alaska, 1985 Iditarod Champion Libby Riddles from Fritz Creek Alaska, Longtime Iditarod musher Mike Williams from Akiak Alaska, and Laura Samuelson Director of Nome Alaska’s Carrie McClain Memorial Museum.

The Seppala Heritage Grant is specifically designed to help fund the efforts of mushers who aspire to run the “Last Great Race to Nome” for the first time.  Applicants have to demonstrate a commitment to work with, train and race sled dogs, and show value traits of generosity of spirit, courage, integrity and love for the dogs, land and people of Alaska.
The Seppala Heritage Grant was founded by the Seppala Family with the hope that other persons or organizations rise to the challenge and donate to this charitable grant with money or services, thereby increasing the outreach potential of this grant.

2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Champion, Mitch Seavey, met that challenge by donating $10,000 of his All-Alaska Sweepstakes winning purse in order keep this very important program alive.

Grant funds are administrated by Iditarod National Historic Trail Alliance Inc., a private, nonprofit organization with 501, C-3 federal tax status. For more information about the Seppala Heritage Grant please contact Dan Seavey at (907) 224.3518

Iditarod Legend Dick Mackey to Appear at Iditarod Headquarters

(Wasilla Alaska, 15 July 2009) In 1978, Dick Mackey won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by one second.  Mackey (wearing bib #13) Collapsed on his sled after sprinting to the finish line defeating Rick Swenson.  The race down Front Street remains the closest finish in the history of “The Last Great Race on Earth.”

Mackey will be at the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters on Thursday, July 16th from 1-4 pm to talk about the famous finish and about the legacy that continues through the Mackey family on the Iditarod Trail. He’ll also be signing “One Second to Glory: The Adventures of Iditarod Champion Dick Mackey” written by Lew Freedman.

Please feel free to come to the Iditarod Headquarters (located at mile 2.2 Kink Road, Wasilla AK) between 1 and 4 pm on Thursday, July 16th and spend some time with an Iditarod Legend; Dick Mackey.

Iditarod Musher Sue Allen on Teaching Kids Through “The Last Great Race”

Sue Allen knows a lot about teaching young people. She teaches physical education at Wasilla High School. She’s also a strong proponent for taking the teachable moments she’s learned on the trail and turning them into learning opportunities in the classroom. Click here for more!

A Very Special Message From a 2008 Iditarod Rookie

On March 1st 2008, Tennessee National Guardsman Rodney D. Whaley began his dream to run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Whaley made it to Cripple Checkpoint before finally having to scratch.Today, Rodney is busy serving his state and his country with fellow guardsman in the Middle East. He wrote this letter about a recent experience he had over there. We hope you’ll take a minute and read it.

From: Rodney D. Whaley

Today is July 6th, two days after the 4th of July celebration. This morning I got up at 0500 (5 a.m.) and proceeded to the gym to get some exercise. I got there at 0530 and decided I would exercise on the elliptical machine. The room has several elliptical and stationary bicycles. We are also provided with television to watch to help the time go by faster. This morning, the TV was on FOX News. At 0600, Mike Huckabee came on. I think it is called Huckabee and Friends. He stated, as the show came on, that the program would be a tribute to our country with some interviews and some musical entertainment. Now, keep in mind that what we are watching at 0600(6 a.m.) is being broadcast on the east coast at 11:00 p.m., Sunday night, 5 July, and in Nashville at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night. It also appeared to be a re-run from the night before, so it initially ran on the night of the 4th of July in the states. I think.

So here we are, a bunch of soldiers, mostly older soldiers, working out on these exercise machines, watching Mike Huckabee and his patriotic show. He first interviewed an author, and then had Lee Greenwood and his band sing and play. Of course in Lee Greenwood tradition, the song was, God Bless the USA. As the song began, we just continued exercising. Beside me was this rather large, jolly man with a strong Spanish accent. He appeared to be Puerto Rican. When we got to the chorus, this man started singing to the top of his lungs, “I’m proud to be an American” with this strong Spanish accent. Then he stopped his machine and stood beside it at attention and continued to sing. Suddenly, others stopped exercising and joined in. I did too. Then this big Hispanic soldier puts his arms around my shoulders in a “man’s hug.” I sang louder. So did everybody else. All of the machines had ceased by this time and we all joined together, arms on one another’s shoulders singing, “I’ll proudly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today.” These are soldiers who truly were “defending her today, this very day” on foreign soil in a combat zone. The big guy beside me had tears streaming down his face. So did others. So did I. Maybe not big elephant tears, but my eyes were beyond moist. This room had a big glass front to it. Across the hall, with a glass front was the weight lifting room. By the time we hit the last chorus, the folks over there had stopped their weight lifting and were watching this little band of old soldiers, arms around one another’s shoulders, with tears in their eyes singing, “God bless the USA!”

When the song was over, we looked at one another like, “What just happened here!” We got back on our machines, continued our exercise session, and FOX News went to a commercial. It is a moment I’ll never forget.

It’s an honor and a privilege to serve my country,


Rodney D. Whaley

The Iditarod Trail Committee salutes Rodney and all those who are and have served in harm’s way so that we can enjoy the freedoms they are charged to protect.

Thank you for your service.

2009 Iditarod Picnic Draws Both Mushers and Volunteers

The 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first day sign ups began at 9:30 am Alaska time at the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters.  By the end of the first draw deadline (3:30 pm Alaska Time) sixty mushers had signed up.  Four time Iditarod Champions Jeff King and Martin Buser joined three time Iditarod Champion (2007,2008,2009) Lance Mackey along with a number of top ten Iditarod Finishers at today’s sign ups.  So far 19 rookies have signed up for the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

More than 500 volunteers and mushers gathered at the Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters. They were served a barbeque luncheon by the Millennium Alaska Hotel (The Official Hotel of the Iditarod trail Sled Dog Race). Jeff King (Denali Alaska) and Robert Nelson (Kotzebue Alaska) won their $4,000 entry fees back in a final drawing that marked the end of the 2009 Volunteer Appreciation Picnic.

2010 Musher Sign ups Reach 60!

For more information on the 2010 field, click here!

2009 Volunteer Picnic Begins Saturday, June 27th

The 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Volunteer Appreciation Picnic is scheduled for Saturday, June 27th, at Iditarod Trail Committee Headquarters (Mile 2.2 Knik Road, Wasilla).  Activities of interest are as follows:

  • 9:30 am – Musher sign-ups for IDITARDO XXXVIII will begin.
  • 10:00 am – General membership meeting will be conducted and election results for the ITC’s board of directors will be announced.
  • 12:00 noon – Volunteer Appreciation Picnic sponsored by the Millennium Alaskan Hotel begins.

Parking for the Volunteer Picnic is available at the Smith Ball Fields adjacent to the Iditarod Headquarters.


The Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) Board of Directors met on May 29th 2009 and made the following decisions about the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race:

  • The entry fee for 2010 remains at $4,000.
  • Change the 2010  sign-up day procedure.  There are two pools. If a musher signs up on the 27thof June 2009 (in person or not) you will draw from the pool of all entrants who signed up on that date (relieves travel costs and time expense for mushers). Any entries received after 3:30 pm will be in the second pool.
  • There will be a drawing at the ITC HQS on the 27th of June for two free entry fees. Mushers must be present to be included in this drawing.

The ITC Board of Directors made the above decisions based on its recognition of the current economic climate.

The following application forms are required in order to sign up for the 2010 Race:

2010 Iditarod Race application

2010 Musher Release Form

2010 Nome Housing Form

Click here for the 2010 Iditarod Trail Committee Rules.