WASILLA -- Five past winners are among 51 mushers who signed up Saturday on the first day to register for next year's Iditarod.
Defending champion and four-time winner Doug Swingley of Lincoln, Mont., has entered the 2002 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. So has five-time champion Rick Swenson of Two Rivers and former champions Jeff King of Denali Park, Martin Buser of Big Lake and Jerry Riley of Nenana.
They're among 36 veterans who signed up. Other top mushers returning for the next race include Linwood Fiedler, Dee Dee Jonrowe and Kotzebue musher John Baker. The field also includes several champions from the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, Alaska's other 1,000-mile-plus race. They are King, Charlie Boulding, Vern Halter, Ramy Brooks, Aliy Zirkle and Tim Osmar, who won the 2000 Yukon Quest and also completed the 2000 Iditarod.
G.B. Jones of the Meadow Lakes area near Wasilla was the first musher to sign up. Jones camped out at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla starting on Monday to be the first in line.
Iditarod entries are accepted until Dec. 1. The race starts on March 2, 2002.