The first nine Iditarod mushers and sled-dog teams have crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska so far today, but another 70 mushers -- including two Madison natives -- are still out on this year's 908-mile course. Zoya DeNure and her dogs have passed the Shaktoolik checkpoint, a little more than 700 miles into the race, in 54th place. Anne Capistrant's team, meanwhile, has passed the Kaltag checkpoint in 73rd position after about 600 miles of mushing.
DeNure, 31, moved to Alaska in 2002 and traded a career in international fashion modeling to rescue and race sled dogs. She lives with her husband at Maclaren River near Mile 42 on the Denali Highway, and owns Crazy Dog Mushing Kennel and Canine Rescue, a racing kennel and non-profit rehabilitation, training and socialization center for unwanted sled dogs. A veteran of several shorter sled-dog races, she is competing in her first Iditarod and has assembled a team of both racing and rescue dogs for her rookie effort.
Capistrant is also racing her first Iditarod as a musher, and marked her 41st birthday early in this year's race. She followed a more circuitous route to Alaska by way of the University of Minnesota (where she took her doctorate degree in ecology and in 1992 met her husband) followed by several other job- and education-related stops in the Midwest before 2003, when the couple moved to Healy, Alaska. Now the parents of two young daughters, the couple are principals in Hoof 'N' Woof Sled Dogs. Capistrant was instrumental in raising and training her husband's sled-dog teams for the Iditarod in 2003 and 2004 -- efforts during which she immersed herself in race preparation and strategy.
The first woman to win the Iditarod was Libby Riddles in 1985; she is also originally from Madison.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race provides plenty of information online, including current standings, ongoing race news bulletins and an interactive map that features live GPS tracking of the teams. The progress of individual mushers can also be tracked on their race profiles, including those for both Capistrant and DeNure. Other Iditarod coverage can be found at Eye on the Trail and Sled Dog Central.