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Woman's Time a Record, Dogs Were Bored : It Took a Rush Mush to Win Sled Race

March 13, 1986|Associated Press

NOME, Alaska — With a headlong rush that started in Unalakleet, Susan Butcher charged across the finish line and into the history books early today in the fastest-ever Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome.

Flushed and perspiring after setting a record-breaking pace to win the 1,158-mile race, Butcher put an end to her history of near-wins in the Iditarod. Twice, she has finished in second place.

She became only the second woman to win the punishing contest when she crossed the finish line on Nome's Front Street just after midnight behind her lead dogs, Granite and Spoons. Libby Riddles won the contest last year.

Hundreds of spectators perched atop cars and buildings to get a peek at the 1986 Iditarod champion, who arrived in a blaze of television lights and flashbulbs. Northern lights streamed across the sky above Nome.

Butcher said she was numb after her victory, but her 13 dogs appeared unimpressed with the ensuing bedlam. They curled up and looked bored in the finish chute.

Asked what she would do with the $50,000 first-prize money, Butcher, 30, replied, "All of the money that I ever win in any race just goes back into the kennels." She has 100 dogs.

Butcher completed her journey in 11 days, 15 hours and six minutes. The old record was 12 days, eight hours, 45 minutes and two seconds set in 1981 by four-time Iditarod champion Rick Swenson.

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