Alaskan John Baker Wins Iditarod


John Baker at last year's Iditarod. (From njwilson23 on Flickr)

Alaskan John Baker won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race earlier this afternoon in Nome, Alaska, becoming the first Alaskan Native to hold the title since Jerry Riley in 1976, the AP and ESPN report. Baker, 48, is also the first ever Eskimo to win the race.

“Running a team like this, there is nothing better,” Baker told the AP. “I am really proud of this.”

Baker shattered the Iditarod course record, shaving three hours off the time of eight days, 22 hours and 46 minutes, set in 2002 by four-time winner Martin Buser. The 1,150-mile race takes place from Anchorage to Nome.

Baker received $50,400 and a new truck for winning the race, but scored a larger win the eyes of many Native Alaskans.

“He represents a resilient people and it just shows we're strong and we can overcome,” said Bertha Koweluk, an Alaska Native from Nome who watched the finish.

Baker was a front-runner in last year's race but ultimately finished fifth. In his 15 years of Iditarod racing, he's eleven times placed in the top ten, with a previous best of third in 2002 and 2009.

Want to try your hand at mushing? Check out our March travel issue for more info on outfitted mushing trips in Alaska.

–Michael Webster

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to John Baker as the first Alaskan to hold the Iditarod title since Jerry Riley in 1976. Baker was the first Alaskan Native since Riley to hold the title. Alaskan Lance Mackey won the race four consecutive years from 2007-2010. Outside has corrected the post and regrets the error.