timeline

born 1954

Susan Butcher's family always knew she'd work with animals ~ and not just because of her childhood essay, "I hate the city. I love the country." But they expected her to be a vet, not a champion dog sledder! 

Mild dyslexia made school challenging for Susan, who moved as a teenager to Colorado to train + work as a vet tech. It wasn't long before she headed for Alaska. From the moment she read about the Iditarod, she knew she'd one day cross its finish line a winner ~ and she did ... 4 times in 5 years. Treating her dogs as teammates, not tools, gave her the edge to break multiple records and change the sport of mushing forever. 

Today, her legacy lives on at Trail Breaker Kennels + in her adopted home state of Alaska, which celebrates Susan Butcher Day every March, and in the ever-growing numbers of female competitive mushers.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Susan Butcher (10)

"Don't follow my dream. Follow your own dream."

On the Iditarod Trail, recalling a mom named Susan Butcher | c.1990s

"Drive. I've been running up every hill. I've got drive."

Iditarod 1987 | march 1987

"I don't want to talk about this year's race. It's over. I've won it. Let's talk about next year's race. I'm coming back to win it again."

after winning 2nd Iditarod {recalled in Academy of Achievement interview} | march 1987

"I don't like to talk, I like to work."

The Dogged Pursuit of Excellence | february 1991

"I train my dogs to have a 'trust-and-be-trusted' relationship...It's mutual trust. Theirs in my guidance, and mine in their ability and instincts in the wilderness."

Academy of Achievement | june 1991

"I was born with the pioneering spirit."

Academy of Achievement | june 1991

"I do not know the word ‘quit.’ Either I never did, or I have somehow abolished it."

Academy of Achievement | june 1991

"Most important is that you are out there with your 12, 16, 20 best friends—the dogs."

Academy of Achievement | june 1991

"Superior performance by a dogsled team is a reflection of superior day-to-day care on the trail."

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race | 2006

"The romance of the race remains firmly rooted in the haunting beauty of the frozen and inhospitable landscape experienced with just a dog team for company."

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race | 2006
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Susan Butcher

curated with care by Meghan Miller Brawley {august 2015}