Coast Guard-sponsored musher finishes in the top five in Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

WASHINGTON — Coast Guard-sponsored veteran dog sled racer Ken Anderson placed fourth in the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Tuesday, traveling 1,049 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.

The Coast Guard’s Alaska heritage was a factor in the decision to sponsor Anderson in the Iditarod. “The Coast Guard has a proud history here in Alaska,” said Cmdr. Darryl Verfaillie, commanding officer at Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “In our early history here in Alaska, dog sleds were used to help perform pivotal rescues of trapped whaling ship crews. We are proud to pay respect to a rich Alaska Coast Guard history by participating in this great race.” As part of the contract sponsorship agreement with Coast Guard Recruiting Command, Anderson’s equipment and clothing displayed the Coast Guard logo and his sled flew the Coast Guard banner throughout the race.

Anderson began the race March 6 at the official starting line in Willow in the outskirts of Anchorage and crossed the finish line at 9:25 p.m., March 16. He faced several setbacks, including being catapulted over his sled after hitting a tree stump and spending time on sled repairs. However, he was able to jump ahead in the standings by splitting the run from Old Woman Cabin to Koyuk, which traditionally takes three runs, into two roughly equal runs. A 10-year veteran of the Iditarod, this is the second time since 2008 he has placed fourth.

Anderson and Coast Guard personnel made pre-race visits to Herman Hutchins Elementary School in Valdez and Fire Lake Elementary School in Eagle River, where he talked with children about mushing and the race and let the children meet some of his sled dogs. “It is an honor for me to be able to team up with the Coast Guard and help support a great organization,” he said. Anderson will be visiting other schools across Alaska, speaking about his mushing and race experiences and the Coast Guard’s core values.

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