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Dick Wilmarth, First Winner Of The Iditarod, Has Died

Mar 30, 2018

Dick Wilmarth poses on Bering Sea ice on the trail to Nome, Alaska in 1973.
Credit Henry Peck / AP

 

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Dick Wilmarth of Red Devil, the first winner of the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race, has died. The first dogs to win the Iditarod were from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and were on Wilmarth’s team.

 

Wilmarth was a miner, and first came to Alaska with his brother when he was 17. According to the AP, “he put a dog team together a few months before the race, swapping goods for dogs in native villages along the Kuskokwim River. He traded a .22 caliber rifle for a snowmobile, and then swapped that for five of his 12 dogs on the team.”

 

Wilmarth completed the race in 20 days and 49 minutes on a trail put together by volunteers from the remains of old mining and mail delivery routes through rural Alaska. In addition to taking home the title of "first winner" of the Iditarod, he collected a $12,000 grand prize. His daughter, Rebecca Wilmarth, told the AP that Wilmarth died of complications from cancer on March 21. He was 75.