Kaci Murringer

Willow's Kaci Murringer was awarded the Red Lantern in the 2020 Iditarod.

A Valley musher claimed the Red Lantern Award.

The 2020 Iditarod came to a close when rookie Kaci Murringer crossed the finish line at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday to win the award given to the musher who is the last to finish the Last Great Race. Murringer, of Willow, was the 34th musher to finish the race that initially included a field of 57.

Friday, a pair of Valley mushers were among three rescued during the final stretch of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Sean Underwood, Tom Knolmayer and Matthew Failor activated their emergency beacons near Safety about 9 a.m. Friday.

“Very high winds and warm temperatures created a deep overflow of water on a section of the Iditarod Trail,” Iditarod officials said in a statement.

All three encountered the deteriorated conditions, Iditarod said. Knolmayer is from Wasilla and Failor is from Willow.

Alaska State Troopers, Nome Search and Rescue and Alaska Rescue Coordination Center were all part of the rescue effort. The mushers and teams were transported to Nome. The three mushers were evaluated a hospital and discharged. The Iditarod also reports that the dogs from all three teams are in good health.

The three mushers were forced to scratch from the race after the rescue. Safety is 22 miles from the finish line in Nome.

Mille Porslid, a musher from Denmark, is the 2020 Iditarod Rookie of the Year. Porslid finished 16tth.

Five years ago, Thomas Waerner was the Iditarod Rookie of the Year. Now the Norwegian is an Iditarod champion.

Waerner hit the finish line on Front Street in Nome at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday to win the Last Great Race. He finished with 10 dogs. His total time was 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds. He was the rookie of the year after a 17th-place finish in 2015.

Waerner is the third Norweigan to win the Iditarod. Joar Liefseth Ulsom earned the title in 2018 and Robert Sorlie won it all in 2005.

Waerner needed 3 hours and 20 minutes to make the trek from Safety to Nome.

Waerner was the first to reach White Mountain, and received the Northrim Bank Achieve More Award. He hit the checkpoint at 5:35 a.m. Tuesday and was awarded a check for $2,500 and a print courtesy of Anchorage artist Marianne Wieland.

Ramey Smyth, of Willow, was the first Valley musher was the first Valley musher to hit he finish line, placing 11th in the race. Smyth arrived in Nome at 11:52 am. Monday. Fellow Willow musher Wade Marrs was 12 minutes behind Smyth and placed 12th. Ryan Redington, a musher with Valley roots, was eighth. Redington, formerly of Knik, now resides in Skagway.

Past Iditarod champ Mitch Seavey was the runner-up in the 2020 race. Seavey, who sports three titles, reached Nome at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday. Jessie Royer, Brent Sass and Aaron Burmeister rounded out the top 5.

Contact the Frontiersman at news@frontiersman.com.

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