When the Iditarod kicks off in downtown Anchorage, one of the race's most well known volunteers will be honored as the first dog team heads east on 4th Avenue. Newton, who died in summer 2012 at age 75, has been the central figure, baker and volunteer organizer at the checkpoint most famous for its hospitality. She was known to many as the pie lady. Delicious desserts abound at the Takotna community hall for the mushers, helpers and passers-through. It might make good race strategy that so many racers spend their mandatory 24-hour layover in Takotna, but the warm and satisfying atmosphere that Newton helped create certainly played into that decision. Her four decades of work earned her a place in the Anchorage Daily News' Iditarod Hall of Fame in 2008.
I spoke with Jan Newtown about her famous pies during the race in 2009. Listen below.
Iditarod spokesperson Erin McLarnon says this year's Teacher on the Trail will ride in the first sled of the ceremonial start in Newton's memory. Read more about Jan Newton here.