SUSAN Howlet BUTCHER
• Dog Racing
SUSAN Howlet BUTCHER
Susan Butcher grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began dog mushing in Colorado, and became a legend in Alaska with four victories in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race between 1986 and 1990. Tutored by race founder and good friend Joe Redington, Sr., who announced to the world Butch would be a champion, a hard-nosed competitor was renowned for her single-minded focus and checkpoint acumen.
Butcher won three straight from 1986-88 and added a fourth time in 1990. Twice she set speed records in the 1,000 mile race between Anchorage and Nome and she won a variety of other middle-distance mushing races. Butcher made her Iditarod debut in 1978 in 19th place. In addition to her Iditarod victories, Butcher placed second 4 times, third once and fifth twice before retiring after the 1994 race.
In 1979, Butcher and Redington, accompanied by a photographer and aided by mountain guide Ray Genet, performed the seemingly impossible feat of driving dog teams to the summit of 20,320 foot Denali, the tallest peak in North America.
In three of Butcher’s Iditarod triumphs, her key lead dog was Granite, one of the most famous canine leaders in race history. Among her other special huskies was Tesla, whom she credited with once saving her life ad for whom she named her first child.
Butcher’s record setting mushing exploits earned her a national reputation. She was twice named Women’s Sports Foundation Professional Athlete of the Year. In sone quarters of the Lower 48, for a time the Iditarod was know as “The race that woman wins.”
Butcher died of leukemia at age 51 in August 2006.
- Four-time Iditarod Champion, including 3 in a row.
- Two-time National Women’s Spirts Foundation’s Professional Athlete of the Year
- U.S. Victor Award for Female Athlete of the Year two years in a row
- Named as one of the “100 Greatest Female Athletes” by Sports Illustrated
- Inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in 2007
- Inducted into Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009
This biography was written by Lew Freedman for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame and reproduced with permission.