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2020 Iditarod has plenty of U.P. talent on display

With the U.P. 200 being one of winter’s highlights in the area, the sport of mushing has become of particular interest to many local residents.

We imagine they’ll be watching most eagerly the progress of two mushers with central U.P. ties as they participate in the 48th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which has its ceremonial beginning Saturday and its actual start Sunday.

Although she’s a native of Ohio, Laura Neese, 23, has been part of Nature’s Kennel of McMillan since 2014.

In her iditarod.com biography, Neese said: “I have been blessed with the opportunity to train and race our Nature’s Kennel team throughout North America for the past five years. 1,000-mile races are my favorite. The 2020 Iditarod will be my fourth. In addition to my rookie Iditarod in 2017, I have completed two Yukon Quests and finished third in 2018. My team and I are looking forward to returning to the Iditarod this year.”

Born in the U.P., musher Kaci Murringer moved to Alaska in 2015. She now lists Willow, Alaska, as her home but her parents Kevin and Barbara both live in the area.

Murringer, an Iditarod rookie, mushes with SBC Kennel.

Her Iditarod biography says: “At seven years old she entered her first sled dog race and finished in first place. The love of being on the trail with her team was all it took to get her hooked and two years later she started her kennel. SBC Kennel represents and honors her original three dogs, Sheba (yellow lab), and her two huskies, Cona and Blazz.”

Murringer will turn 30 during the running of the race.

After its ceremonial beginning on Saturday, the race from Willow to Nome will start Sunday afternoon. It’s on the North Route this year, running from Ophir through Cripple, Ruby, Galena, Nulato, Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain, and Safety before ending in Nome.

The estimate is the Iditarod will last between eight and 14 days.

The Mining Journal will provide updates of the race. And more information can be found at iditarod.com.

We wish all the teams great conditions and wonderful journeys, but there’s a special place in our Yooper hearts for the two women with U.P. ties who will be competing for first place: Go Laura! Go Kaci!

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