Susan Butcher is the only woman to have won the Iditarod four times and did so in 1986-1988 & 1990. Long-distance sled dog racing requires communication and trust between the musher and the dogs. They have to make it as a team from Anchorage through several checkpoints all the way to Nome, Alaska and back.
"I have been known to walk in front of my team for 70 miles, with snow shoes, to lead them through snow storms, in non-racing situations, where I could have just as easily radioed a plane to come and get me." - Susan Butcher
In the winter of 1977, Butcher's lead dog, Tekla, disobeyed her order and kept going off the trail. She decided to trust Tekla and as they passed around the trail, it collapsed into a hidden frozen river.
"Tekla had a sixth sense that saved our lives. That day I learned that the wilderness is their domain. The dogs know more about it than I do, and I'm better off trusting their instincts." - Susan Butcher
"I do not know the word 'quit.' Either I never did, or I have abolished it." - Susan Butcher
Susan Butcher lost her battle with leukaemia in August of 2006 at age 51.
Alaska honors Susan Butcher on the first Sunday of every March, prior to the start of the Iditarod.