“As a young man in the 1980s, John Quniaq Baker flew above the Iditarod Trail to watch the annual sled dog race with a friend. Looking at the course out the window, he told he wanted to run the race someday.
Baker smashed the record by three hours, with a time of 8 days, 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Perhaps most satisfying for many spectators, Baker became the first Alaska Native to run the race in 35 years.” — by Trina Landlord for First Alaskans Magazine
Last fall, when I got the phone call that I was being considered to write a feature column about 2011 Inupiaq Iditarod champion, John Baker, I was honored and it brought me back to the day that he won and the pride that “one of our own had won.” At work, we hung up a sign in the window that read, “Arigaaa! Velvet, Snickers and John Baker!”
A few days later from that initial phone call, his sister and I flew to Kotzebue together for the weekend. I stayed at John’s mothers house, watched him run his dogs on the tundra and interviewed him, his family and Team Baker. Just like going home to Mountain Village, life in rural Alaska is at a different pace and friendly people said, “Welcome to Kotzebue.”