Quality over quantity? 2019 Iditarod field struggles to meet 2018 musher totals

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The 2019 Iditarod registration deadline is November 30, and next year’s race looks to be taking a quality over quantity approach. In 2018 the thousand mile race had 78 Mushers, and late Wednesday night the race had just over half that figure, with 47 mushers signed up.

But race officials aren't worried, and believe there could be more mushers trickling in as the deadline looms Friday.

“You’ll see people sign up right at the last minute,” said race director Mark Nordman.

Nordman said his ideal race would have 65 to 70 teams, but expects around 55 teams to sign up for this year’s race.

“We are still the Super Bowl, World Cup, Stanley Cup Finals,” said Nordman. “If you have a dog team it’s not too long before they ask, 'Have you run the Iditarod?'”

He acknowledges this year’s race will have lower numbers and attributes it to a smaller rookie class. The 2019 rookie class is made up of nine mushers verses sixteen in 2018.

“We had some people retire like Dee Dee Jonrowe, Allen Moore is just trying to win the Yukon Quest, Scott Janssen and a bunch of people who are sitting this one out,” said Nordman.

With fewer teams, logistics are easier and more manageable, but what ultimately takes a hit is the amount of money to make the race happen due to fewer entry fees.

The entry fee for the 2019 Iditarod is $4,000, and currently with 47 mushers the race will make in the ballpark of $200,000 from entry fees. In 2018, the race also had a $4,000 entry fee, adding up to $312,000 from entry fees.

For the Iditarod hopefuls, this means money generated from race fees could go down as much as $100,000.

With the deadline fast approaching Nordman was quick to mention during KTUU Newshour on Wednesday that he expects a surprise musher to sign up late before the November 30th deadline.

Any entry received after the deadline is charged $4,000 on top of their normal entry fee.

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