Copper Basin 1992 #1


I was raised on the back of a dog team–some of my best and earliest memories are of standing on the runners getting blasted by the elements while watching the dogs lean into the lines.

First, running a trapline on the Yentna & Susitna Rivers and hauling supplies/cargo to our family’s homestead a day’s journey from “civilization”, then as a Jr. Iditarod musher. I graduated from the Jr. Iditarod to compete in twin 50’s, such as the Aurora Club races out of Big Lake, AK, as well as various 200 & 300 mile events around the state.

This was back in the era of Joe Redington Sr, when the Mackey brand was championed by Rick & Dick, when the players of the day were Jerry Austin, Dewey Halverson, Lavon Barve, when Susan Butcher was an unstoppable force and only a scant handful of mushers had a prayer of contesting her in any given distance event.

One of my first “big” races, certainly one of the most formative, was the 1992 Copper Basin 300. The race was only a couple of years old at that point and nobody had a firm system of running it yet, so my being a rookie wasn’t as big a liability as you might think–though the roster of drivers competing that year certainly was very intimidating to be sure.

Susan Butcher, Rick Swenson, John Schandlemeir, Lavon Barve, Martin Buser, Dean Osmar–fifty-two drivers in all, and most of them legends in one way or the other.

My plan going into that season was to run the Iditarod, but I only had about 8 “good” dogs and almost zero funding, and that plan fell apart in early December–I decided to focus on mid-distance instead, and I worked out a deal with my Dad (John Barron) that if he would spend a week as my handler at the Copper Basin, providing the truck (I didn’t even own a truck in those days) and the assistance, then I would let him have the pick of my team’s front end for the Iditarod in March.

So, we packed our bags and drove from our home in Big Lake (when our family moved off the river, we split our time between BL & a snowbank up in Trapper Creek), and made the 5-hour drive to Glennallen where the race start was to be.

Starting here, I’m planning a series of posts blow-by-blow of how the race worked out, and I think it will be a very lengthy story–probably 5-6 segments–so keep an eye out for Copper Basin 1992 #2, #3, and so on.

Also, I want to thank Harm for running the blog the last few days in my absence–I’m trying really hard to convince her to do that on a regular basis!!! Her posts are always very creative & colorful, and she brings a refreshing perspective to the format.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

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5 Responses to “Copper Basin 1992 #1”

  1. The CB300 is one of my favorite races, and I’m delighted to see you sharing this bit of history!

    • Yes, one of my favorites, too. Funny to think time has passed so quickly that this story has become history–I remember it as if it were yesterday!

  2. I don’t think I will ever tire of reading about your mushing experiences.

  3. Tish Cockerham Reply May 22, 2011 at 00:49

    I totally agree with Margie!!

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