Iditarod Race Banquet| Meet The Mushers
We had a fun night at the Iditarod Mushers Banquet, every course offered fresh and tasty abundant portions. The highlight of the evening was meeting the mushers and hearing their stories.
Exxon Mobil had a table set up where they were giving away Iditarod Race posters. The poster was a highlight for many guests who used it to get autographs from the mushers. Some folks just went around the hall and asked for autographs, others took advantage of an autograph system that was set up along the outside of the hall. There were tables set up where people opened their posters; they each had their own sharpie with them. After mushers picked their starting position number on stage, they would walk along these outside rows of tables and sign autographs on the posters. There were hundreds of people participating in this way.
We took a different route. Jared and I chose just a few mushers we were particularly interested in meeting and had pictures with them. One was Paige Drobny, a 39 year old from Pennsylvania. She has a degree in biology from Virginia Tech and an MS in Oceanography from U. Alaska Fairbanks. She and her husband originally started mushing as a hobby to explore wild Alaska, but eventually she became a racer. Paige’s story is similar to many of the other mushers, who grew up outside of Alaska, have college degrees, and found a passion in dog sledding.
Another of our favorites is Mike Ellis who went to college in NH, where he lived for 25 years. Mike’s got his degree from Plymouth State College in geography. He moved to Alaska in 2007 after racing dogsleds in New England and Canada for many years. Amazingly, there were mushers racing from all other the world. Martin Buser is from Switzerland, Yvonne Dabakk was born and raised in Germany; Hans Gatt grew up in Australia and Ralph Johannessen is from Norway. Curt Perano is from New Zealand and DeeDee Jonrowe was born in Germany, a military brat, her family was then stationed in Alaska where she found her passion for dog sledding. Another great story involves Newton Marshal, a 30 year old who was born and raised in Jamaica. Newton still lives in Jamaica, where he works in security, he started racing in the Iditarod in 2010. The others are from the USA, Canada and other parts of the world, all with one thing in common, their passion for dog sledding.