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Born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1958, Martin became fascinated with sled dogs while still a teen. He came to Alaska in 1979 to enhance his knowledge of care and training of sled dogs. He began working and training with long-time Alaskan mushers Earl and Natalie Norris and ran his first Iditarod in 1980. Martin, wife Kathy Chapoton, a retired teacher, and sons Nikolai and Rohn (both named after Iditarod checkpoints), formally reside in Big Lake, Alaska, where the family owns and manages Happy Trails Kennel. Nikolai recently graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle. Rohn is pursuing college courses and commercial fishes in Bristol Bay with Mike Jonrowe. Rohn completed the 2008 Iditarod.
Martin spends a large percentage of his personal time speaking with youth on the humanitarian care of animals and the spirit of the Iditarod. A favorite celebrity of the children of Alaska, Martin treats them with surprise visits from his dogs and puppies during many of these appearances.
Martin runs the race each year with his dogs to test the success of their breeding, training and physical endurance. He regards his racers as true competitive athletes and prides his team on their longevity and spirit of competition. Says Martin, “I run the Iditarod to prove that my dogs, bred, trained and raced by Happy Trails Kennels, are the best amongst the world’s long distance athletes.”
As tribute to his treatment of his racers, Martin was awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award in 1988, 1993, 1995, and again in 1997 for the most humanitarian care of his dogs. The award was named for the most famous Alaskan musher who ran the longest and most dangerous stretch of the 1925, 674-mile diphtheria serum run from Nenana to Nome, which saved hundreds of lives.
Following Martin’s 2002 Iditarod victory, the process for his becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was completed under the burled monument. He then turned around in Nome and made the trip from Nome to Big Lake with his family by snow machine.
Upon completion of the 2005 Iditarod after a woodworking accident 4 days prior to the race start resulting in the amputation of a part of his finger; he was awarded both the Sportsmanship and Most Inspirational Awards by his fellow mushers.
Martin is an honorary member of Rotary. He is always involved with some project around the kennel or house. While he and Kathy moved into the retirement home that Martin built, they are still working on finishing all the details, your typical Alaskan self-built home that is never quite finished.
In the summer, Martin and his family give tours of their working kennel. The tour begins with a DVD trip from Anchorage to Nome narrated by Buser and includes his unique anecdotal stories gathered over 23 Iditarods. Visitors are offered a glimpse of a mockup of the Cripple Checkpoint complete with campfire and wall tent. Veterinary and dog care topics are discussed and of course, there's the cuddling of puppies. The tour ends with a riotous symphony of dogs barking as a team is hooked up and taken on a demo run to show folks the dogs in action.
Sprocketheads, LLC produced a DVD featuring the unique lifestyle made possible by training and racing sled dogs. The DVD captures a sled dog’s life from puppyhood to racing and Martin’s interaction with his athletic friends.
Mile by Mile: Martin Buser’s Iditarod is a new release DVD. In partnership with Jeff Schultz and Sprocketheads, LLC, a unique journey from Anchorage to Nome with some of the most spectacular imagines ever assembled in a DVD was created. With a combined 54 years on the trail, Jeff’s photos and Martin’s trail stories make it possible for you to “be there” on the back of the sled!
Martin is currently the musher with the most consecutive Iditarod finishes, 26 races completed in row, 28 total finishes. “We are looking forward to many more and working diligently toward a fifth Iditarod win. While the race is always the final exam, the year round interaction and relationship with the dogs is the most valuable aspect of this lifestyle. On a daily basis, we are amazed by the stamina, loyalty, honesty, and joy of our dogs. Author Brain Jacques went on a ride with Martin and the team many years ago and described the dogs as “eternal children.” We couldn’t agree more. It is our good fortune to be able to take care of them.”
Article posted March 5, 2012 at 09:53 AM •
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