The 51st running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will begin March 4, and while you may not be able to place a legal wager on the race, we decided to take a close look at the event because native Minnesotans have done very well.
The Iditarod, which sort of commemorates a sled run to Nome, Alaska, in 1925 with serum to fight diphtheria (check out the animated 1995 movie “Balto”), covers 938 miles from Anchorage to Nome. There’s a northern route and a southern route and they alternate.
The first official race was in 1973 and this year the Iditarod will be celebrating 50 years of mushing. The all-important dogs are in teams of 12-16, of which at least five must be pulling the sled when it crosses the finish line — one superdog doesn’t cut it.
The winning human gets around $50,000 in prize money.
Mushers are not allowed to give their dogs performance enhancing drugs, and the dogs are drug tested — but not during the race. They are, however examined at race checkpoints for any injuries. Injured dogs are removed from the race, and that’s why mushers need a strong bench.
The course record was set by five-time winner Dallas Seavey in 2021 — 7 days, 14 hours, 8 minutes and 7 seconds. When the race first started it took nearly three weeks, but no one has taken even 11 days since 1992.
While the race likely wouldn't be a juggernaut across hypothetical Minnesota sports betting, we did discover plenty of local ties in our research.
States With Most Iditarod-Winning Mushers
*Note: 8 winners have hailed from an international country; four from Switzerland and four from Norway.
Minnesota Well Represented
Looking back at the winners of the race, none, unsurprisingly, come from Florida or Arizona. Dallas Seavey, however, hails from Virginia.
Minnesotans and Alaskans have had the most wins with nine, but Alaska has had six different winners to Minnesota’s three. Minnesota’s dog sled fame is largely due to five-time winner Rick Swenson, who won with Andy and Old Buddy as lead dogs in 1977 and 1979, Andy and Slick in 1981, Andy alone in 1982, and with Goose in 1991.
Mitch Seavey, Dallas’s father, was born in Minnesota (although he grew up in Alaska) and he added another three titles to the Minnesota total — he won in 2004 with Tread, in 2013 with Tanner and Taurus and in 2017 with Pilot and Crisp. Mitch Seavey is the oldest winner of the Iditarod at 57. Dallas is the youngest-ever winner at 25. One Seavey or another won the title for six straight years from 2012-2017.
Other four-time winners of the Iditarod are Susan Butcher of Massachusetts and Alaska, Doug Swingley from Montana, Martin Buser from Switzerland, Jeff King of California and Alaska and Lance Mackey of Alaska. Mitch Seavey is a three-time winner, and Robert Sorlie of Norway has won the race twice.
The first woman to win the race was Libby Riddles in 1985, right before Butcher’s 1986-1988 three-peat. Women race against men in the Alaskan snow.
Last year’s winner was Brent Sass of Alaska. In fact, the first nine finishers last year were all Alaskans, so Minnesota better hope there is a new wave of up and coming mushers waiting in line.
MinnesotaBets.com utilized Iditarod.com to compile the states that Iditarod-winning mushers hailed from and find where the most came from.