Four-time champion Martin Buser was awarded with a seven-course gourmet meal and presented with a gold pan filled with $3,500 in $1 bills for being the first musher Friday to reach theYukon River in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
“Pretty awesome,” he said.
Buser shared his meal with Iditarod veteran Ken Chase. The two mushers became friends in 1980 during a cold Iditarod run on the Yukon River. Buser was trying to camp out on the river. Chase steered him toward a more comfortable spot.
The finish line in Nome is about 500 miles away.
Defending champion and four-time winner Jeff King was second into the checkpoint. Lance Mackey was third.
Buser said he’s taken some pretty hard hits on the trail this year — one that he thought was going to end his 24th Iditarod. He was on his way to the halfway point at Iditarod when he banged his knee on a tussock. “I thought I had totally broken it. It made such a loud pop,” he said. “It just knocked me off the sled and passed me out.”
When Buser came to, he pulled himself back on his sled and continued on. “Obviously, I am wimpy. I couldn’t handle the pain and passed out.”