2 minute read

Susan Butcher

A Dangerous Run-in With A Moose

Butcher met David Monson after she charged $6,000 worth of dog food with him that she thought she could pay for, but couldn't. The two were married in 1985, with Monson moving 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle to Eureka, Alaska, to live with Butcher at her Trail Breaker Kennels, where she bred and kept over 100 huskies. Butcher loves every aspect of dog breeding, from giving them affection to tending to their veterinary care herself. Too far from a vet, she gives shots, draws blood, and births her own dogs. She trains them daily to run in teams and pull a nearly 500-pound load up to seventy miles.

More than sixty mushers and 1,000 dogs started the 1982 Iditarod. An hour into the race, Butcher's fifteen-dog team—led by Granite—slid off the trail into a tree, injuring three dogs. A violent snowstorm followed and Butcher strayed ten miles off course in whiteout conditions. She dropped the injured dogs off at a checkpoint and forged ahead in 60- to 80-mph winds. She had to drop two more dogs, and Butcher coaxed her nine-dog team into Nome just three minutes, 43 seconds behind the winner, her friend Rick Swenson.

Chronology

1954 Born December 26 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
1962 Begins a school essay with "I hate the city"
1969 Receives first husky dog as a gift
1970 Moves to Colorado and works for a sled-dog breeder, begins mushing
1973 Moves to Alaska
c.1974-76 Spends three winters training in the Wrangell Mountains
1976 Travels to Knik, Alaska to meet and train under Joe Redington
1977 Jumps into freezing cold water for publicity to secure sponsorship, Redington predicts she will one day win Iditarod
1978 Enters and finishes 19th in her first Iditarod
1980 Charges $6,000 worth of dog food to David Monson
1985 Pulls out of the Iditarod after being attacked by a pregnant moose
1985 Marries David Monson
1988 Becomes first person to win Iditarod three times in a row
1990 Sets Iditarod time record (16 days, one hour, 53 minutes) that remains until 1994
1990 Becomes second person to win Iditarod four times
1994 Retires to raise a family and tend to her dog-breeding business

Awards and Accomplishments

1978 Nineteenth place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1979, 1983 Ninth place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1980-81 Fifth place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1982, 1984, 1989, 1992 Second place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1986-88, 1990 First place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1987, 1990 Named Professional Sportswoman of the Year, Women's Sports Foundation
1991 Third place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
1993 Fourth place, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

After finishing ninth in 1983 and second again in 1984, Butcher went into the 1985 feeling at the top of her game. Just after the fifth checkpoint, however, she and her team were charged by a pregnant moose, who became tangled in the team's harnesses. The moose killed two dogs and injured thirteen more before another musher shot it. Butcher dropped out of the race.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsOther SportsSusan Butcher Biography - Loved Animals, Hated The City, Began Preparing For The Iditarod, A Dangerous Run-in With A Moose - CONTACT INFORMATION