The Iditarod Trail Committee has bestowed an honor on one of its most dedicated volunteers.

Philip Esai, who passed away earlier this year, has been named the 2015 Honorary Musher.

Each year, the committee honors one or more people who have made a significant contribution to the sport of sled dog racing. Esai and his wife, Dora, have been involved with Iditarod for years, assisting with housing and feeding the mushers, clearing the trails and searching for lost sled dog teams.

Dora, 80, will wear bib No. 1 in Esai’s honor and will ride in a sled basket at the race start.

“We’re all excited,” said Marty Runkle, Esai’s daughter. “We feel really honored that they chose dad. It’s sad that he passed, but we miss him a lot and he did help a lot with Iditarod. He was always out there doing something with Iditarod. In fact they’d work on the trail ever since I could remember.”

Iditarod 2015 starts March 7 in downtown Anchorage.

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