minutes after Norwegian Robert Sorlie claimed victory of Iditarod
XXXIII, Kotzebue musher Ed Iten and his dog team arrived under
the burled arch. An enthusiastic crowd along with Ed’s
wife Ruthie and children Katie and Quinn greeted Iten when he
finished the 2005 Iditarod in 9 days, 13 hours and 33 minutes.
he went into this race to win, but his expectation was to be
in the top five.
the race saying that rests in the right places at the right
time proved to be critical. Still he grapples with the question
if his decision to rest for three hours in Shaktoolik cost him
the crown or saved him the race.
you lose speed, you’ll never regain it,” he said.
51 year old, the race didn’t start too good but had a
great ending. Like lots of teams this year, Iten’s dogs
got sick. Up until Rohn, Iten said, he was not thinking of racing
when he tried to nurture his team back to health. He rested
6 hours in Rainy Pass, running four and a half hours to Rohn
and let the dogs rest again over 6 hours. In McGrath, the dogs
slowly recovered and Iten stayed on his schedule of almost equal
run and rest times. After giving the team 26.5 hours of rest
in Iditarod he continued on to run a conservative schedule.
A good run to Anvik followed and then the team started to look
healthier and strong enough that Iten decided to make a strait
run to Unalakleet from Eagle River, resting on the way.
together with last years champion Mitch Seavey, Iten said that
they have almost identical training programs, which resulted
in almost identical runs on the trail. “We are evenly
matched with our teams traveling the same speed,” explained
Iten. “I enjoyed Mitch’s company immensely.”
Iten looked at the times of teams ahead of him and decided to
make his move.
looking better, and figuring that Norwegian Robert Sorlie can
only do so many of the marathon runs that he is famous for,
Iten counted on catching the top runners not with lengthy but
and I did a 12 hour run with 3 hours of rest between Anvik and
Eagle Island,” he said. Then he marched on with a seven-hour
run from Eagle to Kaltag, took a two-hour break and pushed to
Unalakleet with an 11-hour run and rested for 6 hours.
was looking good in Unalakleet. Iten then went to Shaktoolik
and rested for three hours there while Mitch Seavey opted to
pass through. Iten explained that he rested his dogs because
after a rest, they were more likely to maintain the speed and
thus the chance to catch Sorlie. “Once the speed changes,
it won’t come back,” reasoned Iten.
was chased by Buser, King and Seavey. They crashed and were
kind of sacrificial lambs.”
Buser and Seavey slowed down on the coast run, Iten marched
forward and made up time. But the race ended short of Iten catching
the Norwegian champion. “I could see the food marks of
Sorlie on the trail in front of me from where he was pedaling,”
I just got to wait another year for the crown,” Iten concluded.
things as simple as possible, Iten said, he never changed his
socks over the duration of the whole race “Heck, I never
changed no socks, no boot liners, no nothing,” he said.
Preferring wool to high-tech micro-fibers, he said, he was damp
but warm. “I want things simple. Simple clothing. Simple
gear. Simple sleds.” Iten said he has no interest in the
so-called Easy Riders, or sleds with a seat.
why he chose to run a more conservative schedule rather than
join Buser, King and Seavey in the chase of Sorlie, Iten explained,
“We live sort of hand-to-mouth, so I have to run conservatively
to finish in the money.”
not racing for a trophy and a paycheck, but it helps to carry
over to the next race,” Iten said.
any bug money sponsors, Iten works as a carpenter and didn’t
start training until December, Iten went on to place second
in the prestigious Kusko 300 in Bethel behind Mitch Seavey.
dog musher lives 26 miles across the Sound from Kotzebue at
a camp on the banks of Fish Creek with his wife, children, dog
handler Tolef Monson and a kennel of almost 70 dogs. His nearest
neighbor is three miles away, Louis Nelson, on the other side
of Fish Creek. The Iten's live a subsistence lifestyle, trap,
hunt and fish with the help of their dog teams and Icelandic
horses. Living off the road system, Lynden Air Cargo proved
to be an invaluable sponsor for Iten, flying his dog food to
Kotzebue and also transporting the Iten's to and from the races.
after arriving in Nome, Iten said that Buser was not the only
handicapped person on the trail. “A few days prior to
the race, I stabbed myself in the knee with a knife when I was
skinning an animal,” he said with a wry smile.
He had to be on antibiotics for the duration of the race and
had trouble kneeling down.
won the Kobuk 440 seven times, the Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel,
and placed second this year. Iten plans to take the same dogs
that raced the Iditarod with him to the upcoming Kobuk 440.
now, Iten is off to warmer climates, saying that he promised
his family a 10-day trip to Mexico. “I don’t know
what to expect,” he said with a grin. “I’ve
never been south of Minnesota.”
sponsored by Lynden Air Cargo, H. Watt and Scott, Drake Construction,
Northwest Arctic Borough, AC Kotzebue and Wilderness Ski-Doo