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Coach Butcher's Team Is Ready for 1,163-mile Iditarod

March 05, 1994|PETE THOMAS

To put her situation last year into perspective for the mainstream sports fan, dog-musher Susan Butcher used a comparison:

"In many ways, part of my job is being coach of nothing different than a football or basketball team, and last year I simply . . . had the Celtics--too many old ones and not enough young ones in there."

Butcher believes she has the perfect mix entering this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which begins today in Anchorage and ends in about 11 days, and 1,163 miles later, at Nome.

But to win her fifth Iditarod--she won in 1986, '87, '88 and '90 before finishing fourth last year--Butcher will require good fortune as well as good dogs, as there will be 57 other mushers, including defending champion Jeff King of Denali Park, Alaska, and five-time winner Rick Swenson of Two Rivers, Alaska.

"I feel very good, but expect there's quite a few other people feeling quite good, too," she said.

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