John Baker First Alaska Eskimo to win Iditarod

ICTMN Staff
3/16/11

ESPN reported that 48-year-old Inupiat John Baker's won in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the longest sled dog race in the world. Baker become only the second Native Alaskan to win the race and the first ever Eskimo since the 1,150-mile Anchorage-to-Nome race began in 1973.  As Baker crossed the finish line on Tuesday morning, he was greeted by hundreds of fans and traditional Eskimo drummers greeted the  musher. Baker hails from Kotzebue, Alaska.

"We are lucky when we are able to do something good and share it with other people," Baker told ESPN. This was his 16th Iditarod, and his victory makes him the first Alaska Native to win in 35-years (the last was Jerry Riley, who won in 1976).

The Detroit Free Press reported that Baker absolutely blew away the previous race record, coming in exactly three hours earlier than the previous record, which was set in 2002 by four-time champion Martin Buser. Baker completed this year's race in eight days, 19 hours and 46 minutes.

Ramey Smyth, 35, of Willow, Alaska, finished second, about an hour behind Baker. The Iditarod's top-30 finishers share in a $528,000 purse. Baker received $50,400 and a new truck for winning.

Four-time consecutive champion champion Lance Mackey was in 17th place when Baker crossed the finish line.

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