Some might say the marriage of David Monson and Susan Butcher has gone to the dogs. Some might say they take separate trips. But neither statement is a sign of trouble. Butcher has just sledded off with 51 other dog teams on the annual 1,158-mile Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. She won the last two years, last year in the record time of 11 days, 2 hours, 5 minutes and 13 seconds. “I’m not gunning for a record, but I’m hoping for a fast race,” Butcher said. Monson had returned victorious only two days earlier after 12 days, 5 hours and 6 minutes of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Canada. He beat 46 other starters, including second- and third-place mushers Jerry Riley and Kathy Swenson. Monson got $20,000 for first prize, and if his wife can repeat, she will win $50,000. But she doesn’t have the victory on ice. One of her opponents is four-time Iditarod champion Rick Swenson--Kathy’s husband. Mushers traverse a trail that was used by dog sleds to deliver serum during the Nome diphtheria epidemic in 1925. And the Iditarod was named after a bustling gold rush town that has been long deserted.
--A $3.7-million cultural exchange program to bring 250 Soviet performers to Boston was rescued from near-bankruptcy with help from Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis. The program, sponsored by the Opera Company of Boston and scheduled to begin Friday, is to include the Bolshoi Ballet and the Bolshoi and Kirov operas. The Boston Globe reported that lawyers advised the Opera Company to declare bankruptcy because the festival was at least $500,000 short after slow ticket sales and contributions. Shultz urged further efforts in a call to the law firm, and Dukakis, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in Texas, called to tell his chief financial adviser to find a solution. The result was an extra $400,000 from the state and another $150,000 in private financing, the paper said.
--Albany, N.Y., officials were angered because an executive producer of the movie “Ironweed” called the city the “armpit of America.” The comment by producer Denis Blouin, a Quebec native, was repeated by media in New York’s capital after it appeared in Canada. The movie is the story of Albany’s Skid Row during the Depression. Mayor Thomas Whalen III called Blouin’s remark stupid, and 3rd Ward Alderman Nebrasca Brace, who appears in a bit part, called it “cheap and shoddy.”