Chugiak’s Lainer to give Iditarod another go at age 79

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 15:47
  • Iditarod musher Jim Lanier tends to his dogs at his kennel Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Chugiak. Lanier, 77, will be the oldest musher in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Jim Lanier is just getting warmed up.

The 78-year-old Chugiak musher will attempt to complete the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in his sixth different decade after entering the 2020 running of “The Last Great Race” on the first day of sign-ups Saturday in Wasilla.

A total of 40 mushers signed up in time for the annual summertime barbecue at race headquarters off Knik-Goose Bay Road. Among those joining Lanier in the race on Day 1 were reigning champion Peter Kaiser and past champions Martin Buser, Lance Mackey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom.

Lanier has completed the race 16 times, the most recent when he finished 35th in 2013. He entered but scratched in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. The retired physician is coming off his first career finish at the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, where he became the oldest finisher as a 78-year-old rookie. He first finished the Iditarod in 1979.

Lanier will be 79 when the 2020 Iditarod begins March 8 on Willow Lake. 84-year-old Norman Vaughan was the oldest Iditarod finisher when he completed the race in 1990.

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