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 Iditarod Gang                

Our Iditarod Family and  IDITAROD, the First Ten Years book contributors
Posted 02/2018 ~ We just wanted to give you an update on a few important things: Our old friend, 1973 Iditarod Champion Richard "Dick" Wilmarth has cancer and is now in Hospice care, surrounded by his loving family. Rod Perry is organizing a tribute to him at the Iditarod Banquet in Anchorage. If you would like to send a message or a card to Dick, his address is 305 N. Gloria, Palmer, AK 99645. Do it now. Rob Stapleton has organized a four author book signing that will include Iditarod photographer Jeff Schultz new book, ICONS of the IDITAROD and our book, IDITAROD, the First Ten Years on Wednesday, February 28th from 5p-8p at the Anchorage Aviation Museum located at 4721 Aircraft Drive on Lake Hood in Anchorage.  Many of our contributors and old friends will be there. If you are in town, please come by and sign some books with us. We have attached a poster and press release to this email. Thanks to Joe May and his grassroots campaign to place a copy of our book in every school along the Iditarod Trail, you have succeeded in donating books from Anchorage to Nome!  Now we are working on getting our book in the rest of our Alaskan schools.  We still have about 190 to go.  If you would like to donate to a school, please let us know. We can send you a list.  Thanks to Myron Angstman, Jim and Jo Woods, Shelley Gill, Sonny Lindner Family, Libby Riddles, Gerry Willomitzer and Darcy Olesen, and the Walt and Gail Phillips Family for your recent donations.  Please note, if you would like to donate school books, we can make it tax deductible.  Please send us an email or call Jo Crane at 907- 953-9394. We wish all the 2018 drivers and their teams safe travels up the Iditarod Trail this year.  

Celebration of Life for Jules Mead
Posted 06/05/17 ~ The Iditarod family has lost a dear friend.  Jules Mead and I worked together for many years on the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors.  Our office was above Teeland's Country Store and Moonshine Shop in Wasilla.  Jules and Leslie rented the space to us for $1 a year and paid for the electricity. Leslie made us a great dinner almost every night and I got to watch their kids grow and become the extraordinary people they are today. Jules told me recently, "I love the Iditarod and would do anything for for it."  The first gathering of the Old Iditarod Gang to talk about creating a book about the early history of the Race was held at Jules and Leslie's home a few years back.  The book is now a reality, "Iditarod, the First Ten Years".  Thank you Jules, for everything you have done for the Iditarod Race, the Historic Iditarod Trail and for making this world a better place to be.  You will be greatly missed.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Jules on Sunday, June 11 at 2:00 PM in the Albatross Clubhouse, Settlers Bay Golf Course, 7307 South Frontier Drive, Wasilla, Alaska. "Jules Mead was a devoted husband, wonderful father and a dear friend to many. He loved to entertain family and friends with games and parties and a glass of red wine. Please celebrate his life with us as we honor Jules with food and drinks, music and memories."

Books Get Into Sourheast & North Slope Schools

Posted 04/21/17 ~ We are so grateful for the wonderful donations from Jim and Jo Wood that allowed us to place books in the schools in Southeast Alaska and to ExxonMobil Alaska that provided books for the schools in the Northwest Arctic Borough and the North Slope Borough.

Bristol Bay Native Corporation & The Old Iditarod Gang Team up

The Old Iditarod Gang (OIG) is pleased to announce that our goal to place a copy of Iditarod The First Ten Years in every school in Alaska is in full swing. The latest donation comes from Bristol Bay Native Corporation. With their generous gift a book will be placed in every school library in the BBNC region. With their participation in this program, they join Doyon and Bering Straits Native Corporations in the Interior and Northwest Alaska, Delta Industrial in Delta and Carr Gottstein with JL Properties in the Anchorage area—covering nearly half of the State— plus numerous other individuals who have assisted in this project.

Watch for a link coming soon to a “Go Fund Me” site to learn how you can still be involved as an individual or an organization in donating this unique history to the school of your choice—an investment in furthering the education of Alaska’s young people.

We have lost dear friend and long time Iditarod family member, Greg Bill. Greg passed away at his home in the Valley on December 10th, surrounded by his wife Annie and daughter Megan and friends. He has been a strong part of the fabric of our lives for so long. His tenure with Iditarod started in 1973 as a volunteer doing whatever he could to help the inaugural race succeed. Greg went on to become an ITC board member, an executive director and a tireless supporter helping to raise thousands of dollars to keep the Race alive. When Bill retired in 2014, he was awarded the HERBIE NAYOKPUK Spirit of Iditarod Award for "exceptional effort and dedication to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race."

Perhaps it is best to let Bill put it in his own words:

A Promise Kept by Greg Bill

In June of 1999, a very special phone call came in to Iditarod Headquarters. It was from Joee Redington and he stated that his Dad wanted me and Stan Hooley to come see him at his house. I knew that Joe Sr. was dying, and this would probably be my last chance to visit with him.

That afternoon, as I walked into Joe’s living room, it struck me that besides being ravished from his terminal illness, Joe had a look on his face that told me that he had something very pressing on his mind. After exchanging some small talk, I asked Joe what was causing the very worried look. After a few minutes, Joe confided to me that he was worried that “His Race” might also die after he was gone. I held his hand and looked him straight in the eye and told him that he didn’t have to worry about that, because there were too many people and sponsors that truly cared about the Iditarod, and that would never happen. Plus, I promised Joe that as long as I was around, I personally would never let that happen. That brought a look of relief to Joe’s face, and more importantly, one of his famous crooked little smiles. I truly felt that Joe now knew that he could “go in peace,” and that everything would be all right. He died two days later.

My request to everyone near and dear to the Iditarod, is that you continue to carry out my promise to Joe, and see that “His Race” will never die.


Thank you Greg, for keeping that promise. We will carry
on and salute you as the dog teams head up the trail to Nome
this year. We will miss you. Godspeed.

photo by Jeff Schultz


by Amy Szoke
What have I got to lose really? As I google the "Last Great Race on Earth" for some sort of contact information.

My mom was a talented sort. Always creating masterpieces from hand. Sewing, drawing or in this case beading a hand crafted one of a kind masterpiece for the winner of the iditarod the Great Sled Race through the majestic landscape of Alaska from Anchorage to Nome.

I remember as a child her beading these pieces. Learning my colours and how to count by "helping" her with the tiny beads, the thousands required to make a priceless trophy granted to those who crossed the finish line first.

Almost immediately I received a response from Joanne, who remembered everything about them (and my mom) and got me in touch with the 1980 winner Joe May.

Her memory reseeecsuted through cyberspace as we chatted through email about her, her accomplishments her talent and ultimately her legacy in the family she never got a chance to meet.

I sit here now, ultimately humbled by the grace of others, as I hold onto the 1980 winners belt. Taken down from a mantle, carefully packaged and delivered from a remote cabin in beautiful Alaska, passed down to me. Gifted by one hell of a man named Joe May.

I can never repay you Joe. But know this, you have touched our lives in a way that will be remembered through the generations. You gave me the once in a lifetime opportunity to have my son hold a piece of his grandma.

I am forever grateful, and a better person to have known you. I will repay my debt thought my kindness to others.

Thank you sir. Thank you.

Keeping the Yukon River Fox, Emmitt Peters from Ruby in our prayers and thoughts. Emmitt has had a stroke and is in the hospital in Fairbanks now.

Librarian Jane Henriksen Baird of the Z.J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage accepting a copy of our book. It was a gift from the Susan Butcher-David Monson Family.

The Iditarod Air Force awarded the Dick and Audra Forsgren Family with a special award and acknowledgement for all the years they have hosted the Ophir Check point!  In the photo are Terry Adkins, Aaron Burmeister, Libby Riddles, Noah Burmeister and Audra Forsgren.

Trudy Anderson-Sobocienski, Al Crane and Rose Albert. They are all contributors!


An ordinary “thank you” seems inadequate to express our appreciation to the individuals and families who donated copies of “IDITAROD, the First Ten Years” to school libraries along the Iditarod Trail.

25 checkpoints, several addition villages and an individual $500 donation to the Eagle River elementary schools exceeded expectations for this spontaneous idea.  Carr-Gottstein Company has also put up a hefty donation to go toward other Alaskan schools. Hopefully other corporate sponsors will soon be found to place a copy in every school library in the state.  That would certainly bring a smile and a nod from the “boss”,  Joe Redington, Sr.

Thanks again!

Joe May and Raine Hall Rawlins


  • WILLOW…Sue Firmin – Donna Quante
  • YENTNA STATION…Phil & Ann Meyer
  • SKWENTNA…Joe May and Family
  • NIKOLAI…Jon & Jona Van Zyle – Ken Severin
  • MCGRATH…Stan Hooley – Jim & Jo Wood
  • TAKOTNA…Fred Agree & Nora Safra – Frank Flavin
  • RUBY…RT & Teresa Lindner – Alan & Raine Rawlins
  • GALENA…Donna Massay – Jim Brown, Jr.
  • NULATO…Ernie & Natalie Baumgartner – Sonny Lindner Family
  • SHAGELUK…Sue Firmin – Sonny Lindner Family
  • ANVIK…Patty Friend – Les Dunbar
  • GRAYLING…Walt & Jan Tremer – Tim Jones
  • KALTAG…Pam Buckway – Joanne and Art Potts
  • UNALAKLEET…Raymie & Barb Redington – John & Theresa Daily
  • SHAKTOOLIK…Sonny Linder Family – David Monson - Dennis Corrington
  • KOYUK… Dave Olson Family – Dennis Corrington
  • ELIM...Shelley Gill – Sue Firmin
  • GOLOVIN…Ed & Ann Yadon
  • WHITE MOUNTAIN…Joe and Sandra May – Jim Brown, Jr.
  • NOME…Al & Jo Crane – Galleher Family


  • NENANA…Marlys Sauer & Dawn Beckwell – Aaron Burmeister
  • MANLEY…Joanne Spafford
  • TANANA…Dale & Cynthia Erickson
  • HUSLIA…RT & Teresa Lindner – Aaron Burmeister
  • KOYUKUK…Sonny Lindner Family
  • BREVIG MISSION…Libby Riddles
  • TELLER…Bud Smyth
  • SAINT MICHAEL…Bill, Gaye, Wendy & Mark Crawford
  • BARLETT HIGH SCHOOL (ANCHORAGE)…Bill, Gaye, Wendy  & Mike Crawford



If you are going to be in Nome for the 2015 Iditarod finish, we will have our book "Iditarod - The First Ten Years" available for sale at the Iditarod Headquarters in Nome ( Mini Convention Center ) at the Nome Library and during the Arts & Craft Fair located at the Old St Joe's Hall in the Anvil City Square. For those of you that would rather have your book shipped directly to you, you can order from our web site 

Raine Hall and Gail Phillips, presenting a copy of our book to Ms. Alta Collins, Librarian at the Northern Lights ABC School
in Anchorage.  Many of the teachers in this school  do lessons about the Iditarod.

 Raine-Hall Rawlins with Iditarod Champion Emmitt Peters and Alan Rawlins at Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks for the
Race Restart - selling & autographing books in Fairbanks.  Raine's fur mittens were made by Mary Peters, Emmitt's mother.

"The Magnificent Seven" - seven of the mushers who ran in the inaugural 1973 Race
They were all in attendance at our book unveiling on March 6th, 2015 to autograph books.  What a picture!

Al Crane presenting a book to the Soldotna Library signing at the Talkeetna, Alaska library,

News Release

March 3, 2015 - It’s here and just in time for the 2015 Iditarod. This much anticipated book, Iditarod® The First Ten Years, will hit bookstores statewide this week.

This book is a story that has been waiting to be told for over 40 years. This anthology, conceived, written and compiled by the Old Iditarod Gang, chronicles the evolution of Joe Redington’s dream of running a race on the historic Iditarod Trail from Anchorage to Old Iditarod and return and eventually settling on an epic race over the trail from Anchorage to Nome. This collection of anecdotes and short stories is written by more than a hundred of those folks who were there—mushers, organizers, administrators, promoters and fund raisers; pilots, checkers, journalists, photographers, hams, veterinarians and hundreds of support personnel, all of them volunteers working on their own dime and all with a spirit in their heart of doing it just to be a part of it.

The book traces the history of the Iditarod from its early beginnings with a short race to commemorate Alaska’s Centennial to its inaugural run in 1973 all the way to Nome and it makes clear the founders’ intent to pattern it after the famous All Alaska Sweepstakes Races in Nome in the early 20th Century. It is replete with constant reference to Iditarod being a celebration of Alaska history and the importance of sled dogs before being displaced by the airplane. There is an entire chapter about the evolution of dog care and fitting tributes to the special bond and relationship between mushers and their dogs. The stories are riveting first-hand tales of all aspects of the journey but unlike many of the books on the market, it not only tells the story of running the race from a musher’s perspective, but from everyone who had anything to do with the event. It celebrates those selfless contributions by volunteers as the backbone of Iditarod’s modern success. The Old Iditarod Gang makes its point that those volunteers were the power that launched the Iditarod onto the world stage of important sporting events.

The Gang is a group of old friends who not only were passionate about those beginnings and celebrating its tie to Alaska’s rich history, they were involved in every aspect of the race. A couple of them actually ran the race! They include: Al Crane, Jo Crane, Frank Flavin, Frank Gerjevic, Raine Hall Rawlins, Gail Philips, Walt Phillips, Rob Stapleton, Jon Van Zyle, Jona Van Zyle and Anne Patch Winters. As the call went out for contributions from others involved in that first decade, joining the team were writers Tim Jones, Joe May, Slim Randles, Shelley Gill and Pam Randles. Many of the contributors are a who’s who of Alaska artists, photographers and writers! With their contributions and from dozens of others who were there, what they have created is a masterful book of memories … and a book of thanks.

This historic book is a hardbound 424 page volume packed with full-color and black and white photos by official race photographers Bill Devine, Rob Stapleton, Frank Flavin, Jim Brown, Jeff Shultz, Fran Durner, Richard Burmeister and many others. It also features 95 pieces of art by Official Iditarod Artist Jon Van Zyle and other Alaskan artists. Designed by Elizabeth Watson and edited by Tricia Brown and co-editors Jo Crane, Gail Phillips, Raine Hall Rawlins and Anne Patch Winters, the book’s “old-timey” scrapbook format fits the theme of its historical significance.

Not only is the book just being made available in bookstores but it will be headlined during the Iditarod race week kick off and will be showcased at a book release party at the Millennium Hotel Race Headquarters on Friday, March 6th co-sponsored by the Iditarod Trail Committee, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the Redington Room. The Old Iditarod Gang and many of the 100 book contributors will be on hand to sign books. In addition, the book will be available at the Restart in Fairbanks at Pike’s Landing. The books will also be available in Nome during finish festivities there.

A portion of the proceeds is being donated to the Iditarod Trail Foundation designated specifically for veterinarian care of the sled dogs.


Iditarod® The First Ten Years has been well received by the public. Regular and leather-bound editions are selling on the website at, in the Iditarod store and their website at and in commercial bookstores all over the State. The Old Iditarod Gang is talking with sponsors to place this historical book in all schools in Alaska and Al Crane, a member of the Gang will be in Kenai and Soldotna on Tuesday to present a copy of the book to both public libraries. Dale Dolifka, local Soldotna attorney, who is involved in the Samaritan’s Purse project with wounded warriors at Lake Clark, has purchased a hundred books to present to the participants in the Heal our Patriots Program on their departure from the Lark Clark camp as an Alaskana gift reminder of their visit to Alaska.

Books will also be available at the Start Banquet in Anchorage on Thursday March 5th, at Cyrano’s Theatre on 4th Ave. during the Ceremonial Race Start from 10:00 to 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 7th, and at the Re-start in Fairbanks on Monday, March 9th at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge on the Chena River. They will available at the Iditarod store in the Lodge as well as at Gulliver’s Bookstore on College Rd. A signing reception is planned at Pikes’s immediately after the Re-start in the Binkley Room from 1:30 to 4:30 pm with warm drinks. Many of the book contributors will be on hand for the signing. In addition, Crane will present a copy of the book to the Fairbanks Noel Wien Library the day of the re-start.

Kenai Peninsula

The books are available on the Peninsula at River City Books in Soldotna, in Homer at the Homer Bookstore and in Seward at Iditaride Sled Dog Tours.


When the racers near Nome, members of the Gang will be on hand with their book. On Monday March 16th the Kegoayah Kozga Library will host representatives of The Old Iditarod Gang at a Book Event at 4:00 pm. During that event the Gang will present a copy of Iditarod® The First Ten Years to the library. The books will be available at the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Old St. Joe’s Church that week, as well as the Iditarod Race Headquarters at the Mini Convention Center and at the Awards Banquet at the Convention Center. They will also be available at the Carrie McLain Museum during the Howard Farley presentations.


Posted 03/02/15 - Gail Phillips presenting Senator Murkowski with a copy of our book, "Iditarod The First Ten Years", during a Reagan Dinner event. Senator Murkowski wrote the preface for the book and was extremely impressed with how the book - Photo courtesy of ECG Photography

Posted 03/02/14 Anchorage, Alaska - Cyrano’s Theatre in downtown Anchorage graciously offered us space to sell our book ,"Iditarod The First Ten Years", during the Fur Rondy weekend.  Included in the picture are, from left to right:  Scott Griffith, Raine Hall, Sandy Harper (owner of Cyranos), the Fur Rondy princesses, Rose Albert, Kim Griffith, Jace Griffith and Frank Flavin. 

Farewell Norma.....

Long time Iditarod family member Norma Delia died Saturday afternoon in Anchorage.  Norma and her late husband Joe ran the Skwentna checkpoint out of their home for twenty five years, serving up countless cups of coffee, warm meals and great stories.  When Joe built Norma a new house, they kindly allowed the Iditarod to continue using their place as  the checkpoint.

"She was a special person. They were both special people. They were so important to Iditarod. They meant so much to everybody", said the 2016 Honorary Musher and long-time Iditarod staff member Joanne Potts.  

We shall miss you Norma.

We will update you with any information regarding a memorial service for Norma.