Cutter Mustang Crew Has Racing and Community On Their Mind

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mustang took full advantage of the Alaska winter lifestyle this season by participating in Iditarod inspired community events and proudly representing the Coast Guard in Seward.

The crew found time to row their way to first place in the annual Iditarow Challenge. They amassed 192,296 meters, equaling 119 miles – a gain of 2,021 meters over last year. The team consisted of Lt. Jim Stoffer, Lt. j.g. Mike Karnowski, BM3 Greg Royal, and Mr. Craig Williamson, Coast Guard Auxiliary. This was the second year of participation for Stoffer, Royal and Williamson. Royal maintained his male lead dog title by rowing more than any other participant — 52,904 meters.

The challenge was sponsored by Resurrection Bodyworks Gym. This is the third year the challenge has been conducted. It starts on the first day of the Iditarod and the goal is for the collective team’s distance rowed to beat the lead Iditarod dog team to Nome and they were successful.

In another event Stoffer ran a three dog sled team in the 15th Annual Seward Mayor’s Cup Race held recently in Seward. Stoffer sponsored himself, representing the Mustang and earned the traditional “red lantern” award by ensuring all sleds were safely off the trail at the end of the race.

The dogs were from Seward local Dan Seavey’s team, father of veteran musher Mitch Seavey. The Seavey family name is synonymous with the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Dan and fellow mushers founded the trail that is still raced today in 1973. His son Mitch began racing as a teenager. Mitch won the Iditarod in 2004 and has inspired his own sons to race.

Stoffer will be leaving the Mustang this year for assignment at Afloat Training Group Pacific Northwest, in Everett, Wash. With any luck his successor, Lt. Greg Haas, will follow his lead and maintain the team. Royal also transfers this year so next year’s male lead dog title will be up for grabs but the Mustang will maintain a place in the overall standings.

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