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Back in Western Alaska: Kotzebue’s Robert Nelson and Unalakleet’s Paul Johnson

audio by Laureli Kinneen and Ben Matheson; photos by Ben Matheson; text by David Dodman

Western Alaska is swelling with pride this week.

Not only has the region produced the 2011 Iditarod champion – Kotzebue’s John Baker – but it’s also fielded a number of other successful mushers who, over the past few days, have passed under Nome’s Burled Arch.

Here, you’ll find the finishes of Kotzebue’s Robert Nelson and Unalakleet’s Paul Johnson. Nelson finished in 19th place on Wednesday evening, Johnson in 34th place Friday morning. Keep scrolling beyond the interviews for a few shots of Paul Johnson at the finish line, just after his arrival.

Robert Nelson, Kotzebue, Alaska, 19th place:

Paul Johnson, Unalakleet, Alaska, 34th place:

Paul Johnson

Unalakleet's Paul Johnson, who ran his second Iditarod in 2011; he last ran the race in 1986.

Paul Johnson and Laureli

Paul Johnson talks to the press, including KNOM's Laureli Kinneen (at far right).

Paul Johnson's dogs

Paul Johnson's dogs, just after his arrival under the Burled Arch.

Paul Johnson's dogs

One of Paul Johnson's dogs.