FAIRBANKS— The first-place prize money for the 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be the largest in the 48-year history of the 1,000-mile event, and it surpasses the top payout in 2014 by nearly $20,000.

The Iditarod Trail Committee, during a press conference Tuesday afternoon in the Millenium Alaskan Hotel in Anchorage, announced that  $70,000 goes to the winner of the 2015 Iditarod that runs more than 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome. 

The upcoming race begins at 10 a.m. March 7 from Fourth Avenue and D Street in downtown Anchorage and finishes in Nome. 

The first musher in the 2015 Iditarod to reach the finish line on Front Street in Nome will receive $19,600 more than 2014 winner Dallas Seavey earned last March.

Seavey garnered $50,400 for his second victory in three years. The Seward resident also won in the 2012 Iditarod. 

The complete purse in 2015 will be $725,100, which is $50,000 greater than last year’s total payout of $675,100.

The committee also announced substantial raises for prize money for the runner-up through fifth-place mushers in 2015.

The 2015 runner-up earns $58,600, up from $47,600 in 2014. Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle was runner-up in the last three Iditarods.

The third-place money in 2015 was raised to $53,900 after being $44,900 in 2014. Exactly $48,400 goes to fourth-place musher in 2015 after the same finish in 2014 was worth $42,400. 

The musher who rounds out the top five will gain $44,300, exceeding the 2014 payout of $39,900.

Seventy-nine mushers are entered in the 2015 Iditarod, including 11 from the Interior. Among the Interior entries are Zirkle and her husband, Allen Moore, who won in the last two Yukon Quest international sled dog races that run 1,000 miles between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon.

Also entered is Fairbanks’ Lance Mackey, who won the Iditarod and the Quest four times each.

The other Interior entries for the 2015 Iditarod are Nenana’s Seth Barnes; Tok’s Hugh Neff; Cantwell’s Mike Santos; Zoya DeNure of Delta Junction; and Fairbanks mushers Paige Drobny, Ken Anderson, Laura Allaway and Jodi Bailey. Barnes and Allaway are Iditarod rookies. Neff was the 2014 Quest runner-up. 

Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: