Willow musher Ramey Smyth may be the best Iditarod racer that you know nothing about. Feared as a ferocious closer late in the race, Smyth is the only musher to finish in the top three spots in each of the past two Iditarods. It's been frustrating to come close only to watch the win slip away, said Smyth, who is looking to reload his dog team with a new leader and create a race blueprint that doesn't force him to play catch-up at the end of trek.
Despite placing second in 2011, trailing only record-breaking Kotzebue musher John Baker, Smyth said he nearly dropped out of the 2012 because he couldn't afford gear and other race expenses. Top mushers spend at least $30,000 to compete, he said.
(Kyle Hopkins / Anchorage Daily News)