The Fan Favorite
A Swiss native turned Alaskan, Martin Buser came to the Last Frontier for a year and hasn’t left. He also became one of the most famous Alaskans for his accomplishments in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The Big Lake resident has won the world’s most prestigious dog mushing event four times. Overall, Buser has completed the 1,000-mile race 34 times and finished a record 32 in a row from 1986- 2017. He’s landed among the Top 10 mushers 19 times.
Renowned for his easy-going attitude towards his dogs and sense of humor, five times Buser has been presented with the Leonhard Seppala Award for humanitarian care of his team.
Popular in the checkpoint villages along the trail, the operator of Happy Trails Kennels has long cultivated friendships with the Alaska Natives who support the race. Buser and wife Kathy Chapoton named their sons Rohn and Nikolai after checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail.
In 2002, Buser set the then-race speed record of 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, a mark that stood for nine years. Subsequently, standing under the burled arch on Nome’s Front Street, he took the oath to become an American citizen.
Buser, born in 1958, has also won great admiration from the public for overcoming non-mushing obstacles. He once entered the Iditarod shortly after having part of a middle finger amputated following a table-saw accident, fought off forest-fire flames encroaching on his homestead, and competed on little training after son Nikolai was severely injured in an automobile accident.
Martin Buser has long been one of Alaska’s heroes and he aspires to race in the Iditarod for as long as he can still stand on the sled runners.
— Lew Freedman