Telling Togo’s Tale: The Iditarod…it all begins at the Mushers Banquet

Iditarod Day 1-Mushers Banquet Dallas Seavey and MJH
Dallas Seavey and Marc Heft at the Mushers Banquet.

Today is the official start of the Iditarod, The Last Great Race on Earth®. But for many, including me, the Mushers Banquet on February 28 was the real beginning of the race.

There, I met  mushers of all ages who will run the race, including several past champions, such as Dallas Seavey, who, in 2012, at age 25, was the youngest Iditarod winner ever. A bit of a rock star who was swamped by fans, Dallas, a third-generation musher, also won the 2011 Yukon Quest race and is Alaska’s first and only national wrestling champion. When asked what he thought of Togo—the sled dog who led a team over the longest and most brutal leg of the 1925 Serum Run—he said a word that very loosely translates to “guts!” I agree!

Two other mushers attracting lots of fans were Anna and Kristy Berrington, here pictured with the nephew of Louie Ambrose another musher. They are the first identical twins to run the Iditarod at the same time, both in 2012 and this year. Kristy described Togo as “determined and driven.”

Musher Justin Savidis had high praise for both Togo and his owner, Leonhard Seppala. “Seppala was the innovator of better treatment for sled dogs and inspired other mushers to better care for their dogs, as well.” Three words to describe Togo? “Dependable; always there.”

And throughout the Iditarod, I will always be there to share more of what I learn about the untold story of Togo, plus Iditarod insights, via Unleashed, Twitter and Facebook.

As for now, it’s back to the trail for me—so see you soon, virtually!

Marc Heft

Iditarod Day 1 Mushers Banquet-Anna and Kristy Berington
Anna and Kristy Berington at the Mushers Banquet with the nephew of musher Louie Ambrose

When he’s not interviewing mushers in Alaska, Marc Heft is interviewing and recruiting top healthcare public relations talent. Turning the tables on Marc, it was TogoRun who recruited him to be our special, on-the-scene reporter. 





The Iditarod was inspired by the 1925 Race for Mercy or Serum Run, during which life-saving diphtheria serum was delivered to Nome via sled dog teams. All of the dogs were amazing, including the most famous, Balto. But it was Leonhard Seppala and a 12-year old, undersized husky, named Togo, who led a team five times further than any other sled dog team over treacherous, unchartered territory. Without Togo, the villagers of Nome would likely have perished. This blog post is part of TogoRun’s campaign to tell Togo’s untold story.