2011 champion John Baker pulls out of Iditarod XLVI
A familiar face on the Iditarod trail will not be competing in the forty-sixth edition of the "Last Great Race on Earth". John Baker, the 2011 champion, did not send in his food drops on Wednesday and tells KTVA sports that he won't run this year's race which begins on March 3rd.
"Through my company Remote Solutions, we've been extremely busy for different companies in Alaska. Working with different projects through the (Department of Transportation)", Baker said. "I found that all the planning that I was working so hard planning for the Iditarod, how to get it down to under eight days... that same focus that I was using for that, I started putting into the business into rural Alaska for their projects and one thing led to another and I'm just overly committed to these projects."
Baker says that his work is very satisfying. His company is helping rural communities and the DOT make sure state and federal projects are more cost-effective, while ensuring that they are actually beneficial.
In 2011 Baker became the first Inupiat Eskimo to win the Iditarod, first Alaska Native musher to accomplish the feat since Jerry Riley in 1976. The 56-year-old was born and raised in Kotzebue and started mushing in 1995. He has 13 top ten Iditarod finishes.
In 2017 Baker finished in 18th place, just one second ahead of his fiance Katherine Keith. Keith still plans to run the 2018 race and Baker says she'll be using his dogs.
"I'd like to do, you know, some of the smaller races possibly in the future," Baker said. "Who knows what the future holds, but right now there's just such an opportunity for me to be involved in other things."
"16 years of disappointment... it was worth it that one year and I try to pass that on to the people in Alaska. Just don't quit. Keep moving and they'll get it," added Baker.
John's brother Andy Baker is the current president of the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors.