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Several mushers from Alaska’s Interior sign up for 2021 Iditarod

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:46 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

Last week, Iditarod Race Officials announced their plans to continue with the 2021 race as scheduled. Over 60 mushers have signed up for the 1,000-mile sled dog race, including several from Alaska’s Interior. The complete list of 2021 Iditarod Musher can be found here.

Aliy Zirkle

Two Rivers • 50 y.o. • SP Kennel • 21-time veteran • 3x Runner-up • 18th Place in 2020 • First and only woman to win Yukon Quest (2000)

A fan favorite, Zirkle had famously finished runner-up in the Iditarod three consecutive years (2012-14) and 2021 may be her last chance to claim victory. According to her Musher Biography on Iditarod.com, Zirkle plans to retire after the 2021 race.

Jeff Deeter

Fairbanks • 32 y.o. • Black Spruce Dog Sledding • 4-time veteran • 16th Place in 2020 • First Iditarod was in 2008

Deeter first took on the Iditarod trail in 2008 before taking a 10 year hiatus. Deeter began mushing competitively once again in 2018, where he has competed in the last three Iditarods. His best finish was 15th place in 2019.

Paige Drobny

Cantwell • 45 y.o. • Squid Acres Kennel • 5-time veteran • 7th Place in 2020 • 2019 Most Improved Musher

Drobny, orignally from Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a Masters of Science in Fisheries Oceanography. She is also married to fellow Musher Cody Strathe and has ran the Iditarod five consecutive times.

Will Troshynski

Fairbanks • 35 y.o. • ATAO Kennel • Rookie • Ran Jr. Iditarod in 2000

Troshnyski was born in Wyoming, but has spent most of his life in Alaska. “Will is open about his long struggle with depression and mushes to show that you can do big things while coping with mental health issues. Will also happens to be a trans man and races particularly for LGBTQ + youth," according to his Musher Bio. Troshynski will take on his first Iditarod race in 2021.

Ryne Olson

Two Rivers Ryno Kennel 2-time veteran 31st in 2012 (Best Finish)

Olson has only competed in the Iditarod twice, taking 31st in 2012 before finishing 59th in 2016. After 5 years away from the race, Olson will take on the 1,000-mile trail for the third time in her career. “I’ve always loved dogs and the outdoors and I’m so happy I stumbled upon this incredible sport. There’s no bond quite like the one between a dog team and their musher,” Olson said in her Musher Bio.

Joshua McNeal

Fairbanks Crooked Creek MushingRookie

Jeff King

Denali Park • 64 y.o. • Husky Homestead • 27-time finisher • 4x Iditarod Champion (1993, 1996, 1998, 2006)

King brings in veteran experience the race, claiming four Iditarod Championships. A career that began in 1981, King will span four decades of mushing when he competes in 2021. King moved to Alaska in 1975 and runs the Husky Homestead.

Jessie Royer

• Fairbanks • 43 y.o. • 18-time veteran • 3rd Place in 2020 • 2001 Rookie of the Year • 2017 Most Inspirational

Royer enters the 2021 race with 20 years of Iditarod Experience. She has placed in the top 10 eight times, including back-to-back third place finishes in 2019 and 2020. Last year, she took home four Iditarod Awards with the First Musher to the Yukon, Fish First, Spirit of Alaska and the 4-wheeler drawing.

Dan Kaduce

• Chatanika • 44 y.o. • Dew Claw Kennel • 2-time veteran • 31st Place in 2014 • 2010 Rookie of the Year

Kaduce has spotty appearances in the Iditarod, taking it on for the first time 2010 before trying again in 2014. For the first time in seven years, Kaduce will take on the 1,000-mile trail with his team. His best finish came in 2010, when he placed 21st and won Rookie of the Year.

Joanna Jagow

• Fairbanks • Motley Crew Kennel • Rookie

“At the age of 7 I was following behind with a small dog team and as a teenager I dreamed of one day having my own race team. In high school I bought my very first sled dog and had my first litter of pups. As I completed college and my nursing degree I continued building my own kennel and started doing a few mid-distance races. My team and I are excited to finally get to see the Iditarod trail!” Jagow said in her Musher Bio.

Brenda Mackey

• Two Rivers • Mackey’s Alaskan Distance Dogs • Rookie

Mackey is a third generation Mackey musher and is the first woman in the family to take on the Iditarod. “When I was five my dad asked me who I thought was going to win the Iditarod. I replied, “Rick Swenson” (I’ve always been direct). He laughed and said, “Nope, I’m going to.” My dad ended up winning that Iditarod, which helped instill a desire to chase that dream myself,” Mackey said in her Musher Bio.

Christopher Parker

• Fairbanks • Rookie

“When I started mushing I was amazed by the ability, attitude and resilience of these dogs. As I started to push them and myself, I found depths of energy and strength that I never knew existed. Now I want to test my limits and see with my own eyes what these dogs are capable of,” Parker said in his Musher Bio.

Aaron Burmeister

• Nome/Nenana • 45 y.o. • 19-time veteran • 5th Place finish in 2020

Burmeister will be taking on the Iditarod for the 20th time in his career. Since 2009, Burmeister has posted six Top-10 finishes, including a 3rd place finish in 2015. Burmeister’s first run in the Iditarod was in 1994.

Riley Dyche

• Fairbanks • Dark Horse Racing Kennel • 1-time veteran

Dyche moved to Alaska in 2013. This will be his second crack at the Iditarod, after placing 25th last year. He plans to run the same dogs as he did in last year’s race.

Matt Hall

• Two Rivers • 27 y.o. • Smokin' Aces Kennels • 2-time veteran • 6th Place in 2019 • 2017 Yukon Quest Winner

In just his second Iditarod, Hall impressed with a sixth place finish in 2019. In his rookie year of 2018, Hall placed 11th, establishing himself as a competitive musher. At the age of 22, Hall won the Yukon Quest in 2017.

Cody Strathe

• Fairbanks • 40 y.o. • Squid Acres Kennel • 3-time veteran • 29th Place in 2018

After taking the past two years off, Strathe is ready to take on the Iditarod for the fourth time. His best placement came in his last race in 2018, where he took 29th. Strathe is married to Paige Drobny, who is also competing in the 2021 Iditarod. They were the first couple to run both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year when they did so in 2016, according to his Musher Bio.

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