- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The winner of the 2011 Iditarod race will not return to trail to compete in the 46th edition of the “Last Great Race on Earth” this year, he said.

Former champion John Baker told KTVA-TV that he is tied up with various projects that his company Remote Solutions is working on.

Baker’s company helps rural communities and the Department of Transportation make state and federal projects more cost effective and ensure that they will be beneficial.

The work is satisfying, he said.

“I found that all the planning that I was working so hard planning for the Iditarod, how to get it down to under eight days… that same focus that I was using for that, I started putting into the business into rural Alaska for their projects and one thing led to another and I’m just overly committed to these projects,” he said.

In 2011, Baker was the first Inupiat Eskimo to win the Iditarod and the first Alaska Native musher to win since Jerry Riley in 1976. The 56-year-old Kotzebue native has been mushing since 1995 and has finished in the top ten in 13 Iditarod races.

Last year, Baker competed in the race and finished in 18th place, beating his fiancee Katherine Keith by one second.

Keith will compete again this year and will be running with Baker’s dogs, the couple said.

Baker has not totally closed the door on competing again.

“I’d like to do, you know, some of the smaller races possibly in the future,” Baker said. “Who knows what the future holds, but right now there’s just such an opportunity for me to be involved in other things.”

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Information from: KTVA-TV, http://www.ktva.com

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