Four champions among 52 signed up for Iditarod 2018

ITC will allow musher banned for domestic violence back into race

Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fillets are the entrée of choice at the annual Iditarod Trail Committee volunteer picnic and the start of sign-up for the historic race to Nome. Race sponsor Pen Air flies in sockeye salmon fillets fresh from the waters of Bristol Bay for the event, where they are served up with baked beans, cole slaw, potato chips and more by another race sponsor, Golden Corral, an Anchorage restaurant. Photo by Margaret Bauman/The Cordova Times

Iditarod champions Mitch Seavey, Dallas Seavey, Jeff King and Martin Buser are among the 52 mushers, including nine rookies, officially entered so far to compete in the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Thirty-three of them were on hand at the Iditarod Trail Committee’s annual volunteer picnic at ITC headquarters in Wasilla on June 24 to sign up, and another 19 submitted their entry forms by mail for the 46th running of the race.

Entrants include nine teams from Canada, the Czech Republic, Norway and Sweden, plus the states of Michigan, Montana and New York. Among the Alaskans are Yukon Quest champions Aliy Zirkle, Allen Moore and Dallas Seavey, and Ray, Robert and Ryan Redington, the sons of Iditarod veteran Raymie Redington and grandsons of Iditarod founder Joe Redington Sr.

The deadline for entries is Dec. 1, and ITC officials are estimating that the starting field will approach 80 teams. The ceremonial start of Iditarod 2018 is set to begin in downtown Anchorage on March 3, 2018, with the race itself beginning at Willow the following day, weather permitting. The race start for Iditarod 2017 had to be moved to Fairbanks because of poor trail conditions on the trail that started in Willow.

The ITC also announced on June 24 a decision to allow musher Travis Beals to compete in Iditarod 2018, after his completion and implementation of all requirements made by the Palmer Coordinated Resources Project, a voluntary therapeutic court within the District Court in Palmer.

The ITC voted in September 2016 to ban Beals from the 2017 race, saying he was no longer a member in good standing. Four months before the ITC action Beals was charged with fourth degree assault and fifth degree criminal mischief in a domestic violence case. Beals also pled guilty in 2015 to criminal mischief charges in a domestic violence case.  He has not yet registered for the upcoming race.

Chas St. George, chief operating officer for ITC, said that a personal conduct advisory committee looked at information provided by the therapeutic court on what Beals did to comply with requirements of the court order rehabilitation, then made its recommendation to the ITC board, which voted to allow Beals back into the race.

Committee members included Andy Baker, board president; Danny Seybert, vice president; musher Aliy Zirkle, former Iditarod executive director Raine Hall Rawlins, and former state legislator Gail Phillips, a longtime volunteer with the race.

The committee meanwhile is continuing to review its policy on the personal conduct of competing mushers, he said.

“Domestic violence in our state is a huge issue, both sexual assault and domestic violence,” St. George said.

The state court, he noted, dismissed its case against Beals based on his due diligence in meeting requirements of the therapeutic court.