Who is musher Rob Cooke?

According to a press release from Iditarod, veteran musher, Rob Cooke has withdrawn from the 2024 Iditarod:

Wasilla, Alaska – Veteran Iditarod musher, Rob Cooke, announced today that he has made the decision to withdraw from the 2024 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race®.

The Iditarod Trail Committee will miss watching Rob on the trail this year and look forward to seeing him compete in Iditarod 2025.”

Mushing Magazine interviewed Rob in 2020. Here is an excerpt:

“We have been living with, and racing, Siberian huskies since around 1997. In England, particularly in the 1990’s, the majority of sled dog racing was for pure breed ‘northern’ dogs (Siberians, Alaskan Malamutes, Greenland Dogs, Eskimo Dogs, Samoyeds) and was nearly all dryland sprint. We would race most weekends from October to March with the biggest race being the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain Aviemore Race, which attracted over 200 teams. Travelling long miles just to race short distances was not enough and I wanted to do more distance. Around 2004 I became really interested in the Yukon Quest, I even started to wonder if I could train my own dogs to take part in the race.

My goal has always been to race with my own dogs, not dogs raised and trained by others – this has always been important to me for many reasons not least because I know those dogs so well. I was serving in the military at the time and managed to get an exchange posting with the Canadian Air Force and we moved to Canada in 2005. We started breeding and buying more puppies from Siberian Husky lines that I thought could run long distance races and in 2008, when I was recalled to the Royal Navy, I resigned from the military after 23 years’ service so we could stay in Canada and prepare for the Quest. I spent the winter of 2011/12 in Willow Alaska doing qualifying races and in 2013 we ran our first Yukon Quest.”