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Martin Buser Reflects In Huslia, “Back To Basic Priorities”

Martin Buser in Huslia. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM

Four-Time Iditarod champion Martin buser pulled into Huslia Friday morning around 8:30am, after nearly 22 hours on the 82 mile run from Galena. What happened along that stretch of trail?

“I had a good long think,” Buser says, “which is always dangerous if you have two brain cells ping-ponging their thoughts back and forth.”

Handmade cardboard signs brighten the trail into Huslia, a reminder to Martin of the olden days of the Iditarod when checkpoints were more simple: “Not much more than markers and good intentions, you know?” Teachers encouraged school kids to write inspiring messages to the mushers. One sign, in particular, caught Martin’s attention. It reads, “We teenagers look up to you.”

Martin says, “Maybe I touched somebody just by being me, by doing what I do.”


Martin Buser in Huslia. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM


Martin started Iditarod 2015, blazing the trail, leading the race into Nenana, into Manley and Tanana. Thinking back on the race so far, Buser says his team can’t win, that he’s made enough mistakes already; starting with training. “A responsible coach will always say, ‘I lost the game.’ We didn’t train on punchy trail. When there was snow in other places,…I didn’t pack up and go. You hope for a hard, fast trail; trail conditions that suit your team. [And when it doesn’t happen,] you can always blame the trail, but I blame myself.” Without that valuable training, Buser’s dogs are sore and tired.

Buser plans to run this race from here on out according to his team first and foremost. He’s not in a hurry anymore, mentioning the option to wait a couple days for son Rohn to catch up and run the second half to Nome together. But scratching? “Scratching is probably the last thing I would do. I would probably be out here until breakup. I might even build a boat.”

Buser remembers the Huslia teenagers, saying it’s that sign that needs to be rememberd when the chips are down. “That’s when you can really lead by example. That’s maybe when in the darkest moments you can make a difference. When somebody thinks about checking out, but they don’t. People can overcome, people can tough it out. If I make this race so important that I compromise my values, then I’m a loser. That’s what I don’t want to happen.”


Martin Buser in Huslia. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM

35 Responses to “Martin Buser Reflects In Huslia, “Back To Basic Priorities””

  1. Tal Beetus Baker

    Your dedication to finishing this race is admirable! Prayers for guidance and perseverance! Go Martin!

  2. Chris Morin

    Martin, as always you are the best of the best.

  3. Nancy

    So proud of you. You truly are a wonderful image of a hero and role model. May you and your dogs enjoy the rest of your trip. Treasure the moments.

  4. Brenda

    You are a wise man. I admire and respect you and your philosophies. Sometimes we have to do not what we want, but as you say what is right. Our dogs would lay down their lives for us in a second. In my life, they are sometimes what get me out of bed, outside, and show me the simple joys of life. I can’t imagine life without them. Good luck, I envy the beauty, solitude and silence you get to experience out there.

  5. Teri Meister

    Travel safely my friend. Meeting you this past summer and seeing your love of your team and your attitude that any dog can be a leader with enough time touched me. You are an example and definition of winner.

  6. karen

    A man and his dogs, there is not another like him.

  7. George McDonald

    A first class musher…pulling for you, Martin.

  8. Kim Lynn in Ky.

    Your the Best and I can only hope that my kids can learn to have as much Integrity as you! Thank You Martin for continuing to show us that we can always strive to be better people!

  9. Jim

    As you recently wrote on the leaf of your book ….
    ” Annie and I are part of every team you drive ”
    and know we are with you now. Just enjoy the rest of the trip…..
    ” Doc” `n Annie

  10. Heather A. Drake

    One of the coolest thing I’ve ever seen was when Martin & Rhon crossed the finish in Nome together, then let all the dogs loose!! Mushers, dogs, handlers & fans, all having fun! Kinda hope he waits for Rhon 🙂

  11. Jacquie Crawford

    Martin, you are an inspiration to all. We love you and all your dogs! Enjoy the rest of the trail.

    Jacquie – March 14 2015

  12. Elaine

    Your love of the dogs, the villages and people along the trail and the sport shows in every decision you make. You are an American hero to many. Praying for a safe and happy trail to Nome.

  13. Linda

    You are a true champion Martin…like the sign said” We look up to you”
    Wishing you and your team the best!!!!
    from Pittsburgh

  14. Deborah Dix Therriault

    Having taught for 38 years and using the Idiatrod as a teaching tool for more than just academics the mushers lead the way in the character traits I always try to teach my students. THANK YOU for being that example for them and me.

  15. Karen Roberts

    Martin you just redefined winning. There is a reason those young ones look up to you. Thank you for teaching a lesson in integrity. Just like with teaching we as teachers always say “it’s all about the kids.” Musher know” it’s all about the dogs !” Will always follow the Iditarod.

  16. Jim Williamson

    At 71 this old golfer understands keeping at what it is you love to do.
    Many of us that met you years ago still follow you. Enjoy the race.

    Jim W

  17. Kun Erzsébet

    Dear Martin! I love to compete, because you love the Iditarodot, but am more importantly you like you dogs, too. Hungarian country rooting for you !!! Erzsébet

  18. Brad & Carolyn Hanson

    Martin you will always be a champion

  19. Teresa Weber

    God Bless You Martin Buser. You are the true 2015 Iditarod Winner. You are a great role model for ALL to take responsibility for your or their own actions. Thank you for the love and care you show for those dogs; a great example for the other mushers!

  20. Laura Ableman

    Thank you for being such an honorable man Mr. Buser…for ALWAYS putting your dogs first. You’re a great and highly respected musher for all to look up to. Wishing you and your dogs the very best!

  21. betty byrd

    Best wishes Martin, from Sydney, Australia.

  22. Nanci Bender

    Martin, sorry this year didn’t work out. Was at your training center in late August and respect all that you do. There is always next year and hopefully there will be more snow.

  23. Virginia D. Baldwin

    Martin: Your rewards are bubbling within you and now are coming out and you are sharing them with us. You have put into words how many of us feel. have been feeling this closeness to my pet, Molly, a Pomeranian from Alaska since my husband passed away last year. Thank you for your inspiration, showing us the deep love between a man, his dogs and humanity..You are a winner in all of our hearts. Bonnie’s Mom, Ginny Baldwin

  24. Debby Johnson

    Martin – Love the way you aren’t wasting any time feeling sorry for yourself, and taking responsibility for your actions! Continue to let God’s potential guide you toward being the person you are to be! Noah listened,
    built a boat, wah-lah! I am always proud to be pulling for you guys!! Remember- the mustard seed my class gave you in 2000- “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, all things are possible unto you! Matthew 17:20” God has great and mighty things in store for you!! We are also very proud of Rohn!! Keep on, Keeping on!!!
    In HIs Love,
    Debby Johnson and Crew

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