An elite group of mushers followed John Baker’s historic run to Nome on Tuesday.
The top six:
Ramey Smyth: 8 Days 19 Hours 50 Minutes 59 Seconds
Ramey Smyth may have come in second, but his run also bested Martin Buser’s previous 2002 record.
Smyth’s dogs veered toward the Polar Cub Café on Front Street and Smyth hopped off his sled and ran in to the finish line with his team.
“We gave everything we had,” said Smyth, of Big Lake. “I’m proud to come in second to someone like John Baker.”
Hans Gatt: 9 Days 0 Hours 24 Minutes 23 Seconds
Hans Gatt crossed the finish line third and dispensed fat pieces of frozen salmon to his dogs. One small brown-and-white dog named Ming squeaked and got an additional piece of fish.
“We call her Ming the Merciless. It’s a big joke. Oh, she’s a big wimp,” said Gatt’s partner Susan Rogan.
The race was “blistering fast” this year, he said. Teams are pushing themselves harder, which worries him.
“We’re taking shorter breaks and longer runs every year,” he said.
At 53 and with 13 Iditarod races behind him Gatt says he’s retiring. He’ll keep his dogs and mush for fun, but not competitively, Gatt said.
“I’ve been doing competitive racing all of my life, since I was a kid,” Gatt said. “Maybe I will have to get a motorcycle again.”
Dallas Seavey: 9 Days 2 Hours 27 Minutes 18 Seconds
Coming off a Yukon Quest that was as stormy as the Iditarod was mild, Seavey said he was pleased that his dogs were able to cope in both.
“I like having a dog team that can handle all of those conditions,” he said.
Seavey was greeted by his dad Mitch Seavey, a past Iditarod champion who scratched from this year’s race after a hand injury.
“He’s done really well – he’s got a lot of poise,” the elder Seavey said.
Hugh Neff: 9 Days 3 Hours 16 Minutes 18 Second
Tok-based Hugh Neff said his fifth place finish was less important than the ride.