2019 Iditarod Coverage -- The Red Lantern

By: Michael Rogers

Close-up of Red Lantern Award.
Photo by: Jeff Schultz

The last finisher of the Iditarod is in and the race is officially over. Rookie musher Victoria Hardwick of Bethel, Alaska crossed under the burled arch with a time of 14 days, 22 hours, and 51 minutes. After her crossing, the widow’s lamp was extinguished and the course was officially closed for the 2019 race. The Burled Arch will be taken down and stowed inside the museum, ready for next year’s race. The Red Lantern hearkens back to the Fur Rendezvous races of the 1950s and carried over to the Iditarod.

Victoria Hardwick and team leave the ceremonial start line with an Iditarider at 4th Avenue and D street in downtown Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday March 2nd during the 2019 Iditarod race.
Photo by Brendan Smith/SchultzPhoto.com

A couple of final moments of the race, Cindy Gallea scratched in a heartbreaking moment in Safety, just 22 miles from the finish. Her team simply sputtered out and it took her 22 hours to make it the 55 miles from White Mountain to Safety. Given Gallea’s historical pace, I doubt the team was exhausted and would suspect illness.

Cindy Gallea at the Restart of the 2009 Iditarod in Willow Alaska.
Photo by: Jeff Schultz

Also, sputtering was Sarah Stokey’s team. They were in good shape physically, but 150 miles from the finish she found herself in the lead dog position and walked them across the line herself for a 34th place finish. Good show Sarah!

Anja Radano finished despite injuries sustained in the Dalzell Gorge and finished in 35th place. Social media phenomenon

Anja Radano teams runs up the bank arriving in the morning at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2018 Iditarod race on Wednesday March 07, 2018. 
Photo by Jeff Schultz/

Blair Braverman finished her first Iditarod in 36th position. Her #Uglydog fan based raised thousands of dollars for schools in Alaska and abroad as she mushed her way to Nome. Leveraging the power of connecting with her following on social media, she’s brought thousands of new fans and interest to the sport.

Blair Braverman leaves the start line in downtown Anchorage on 4th avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2019 Iditarod.
Photo by Jeff Schultz

The finisher’s banquet was held and knighted Lance Mackey with the Most Inspirational Musher Award. Even his competitors were rooting for the ill Mackey to finish this year’s race.

Lance Mackay won his first Iditarod 12 years ago back in 2007. He would go on to win three more times. Photo by: Jeff Schultz

The Humanitarian Award was presented to Aliy Zirkle for her excellence in dog care during the race. The race veterinarians present the award, so they’re in a position to know dog care.

Aliy Zirkle poses with her lead dogs at the Nome finish line with her lead dogs Mismo and Dutch after placing 4th in the 2019 Iditarod on Wednesday March 13
Photo by Jeff Schultz

Rookie of the Year went to Ed Hopkins in 21st place as the highest finishing rookie.

Ed Hopkins team rests at the Old Woman cabin on his run from Kaltag to Unalakleet on Monday evening March 11th during the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Photo by Jeff Schultz

The Sportsmanship Award went to Mats Petterson for helping Linwood Fielder recover his dogs earlier in the race.

Mats Petterson boots his dogs in the ice fog at 40 below zero in the morning at the Huslia checkpoint on Saturday March 14, 2015 during Iditarod 2015.  
Photo by: Jeff Schultz

The Herbie Nayokpuk Award for best attitude went to Aaron Peck for his upbeat approach to a hard race. Most Improved Musher award went to Paige Drobny who ran her “Squids” up in the standings from #44 in 2016 to #7 in 2019.

Paige Drobny and team run past spectators on the bike/ski trail with an Iditarider in the basket during the Anchorage, Alaska ceremonial start of the 2015 Iditarod race.
Photo by Ed Bennett

The Golden Harness Award went to Morrow, a 7 year old on Peter Kaiser’s winning team. 

Iditarod 2019 champion Pete Kaiser and his dogs Marrow and Lucy at the end of the 1,000-mile race in Nome, March 13, 2019.
(Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

This year from a field of 52 mushers, 39 finished the race despite the challenging warm temperatures and all the attendant hardship that Alaska brings. 

Author’s note- It’s been my pleasure to bring this coverage to you in installment form and hope that you have enjoyed our content for the 2019 Iditarod, The Last Great Race on Earth.

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