Dallas Seavey raced up from third place to take the lead a few short hours before crossing the finish line and winning the annual Iditarod dog sled race in Nome, Alaska. Seavey, who became the youngest musher to ever win the race at 25-years- old back in 2012, is not the only Seavey involved with the race though. though. In fact, his father, Mitch is also a two-time winner and last year he became the oldest musher to win. Dallas Seavey’s feat not only made sure that the Iditarod title stays with the family, but it also paid homage to grandfather Dan Seavey, who helped organize the inaugural Iditarod race in 1973.
Seavey lept from third to first in the race with an assist from Mother Nature. Four-time champ Jeff King had held over an hour advantage over Seavey and runner-up Aliy Zirkle when a land blizzard blew his team off course and into a heap of driftwood. The storm hit about four miles shy of Checkpoint Safety, the last checkpoint in the race that marks the 22 mile sprint to the finish line. After the confusion King could not get his team to race anymore, so he had to hitch a ride to Safety from a passing snowmobiler. His day was done.
Zirkle made her way to Safety thinking that King was far ahead of her. She had to stop there for some time to recover from frostbite and give a couple of her dogs some rest.
“I never saw Jeff out there, but I wasn’t on the trail most of the time. I don’t know where I was,” Zirkle said.
While Zirkle grabbed some coffee and took a nap waiting for the blizzard to pass, the younger Seavey approached the checkpoint. He stayed only three minutes and Zirkle awoke to Seavey’s team leaving the checkpoint ahead of her. Zirkle got her team together and managed to leave the checkpoint 19 minutes after Seavey. He ended up beating her by a scant two minutes. It was the third straight year that Zirkle was the runner up at the Iditarod without having posted a victory.
“I’m sure I’m going to be bummed,” said Zirkle, who added that three runner-up finishes are better than three scratches.
Seavey himself did not know that he had taken the lead when he left Safety. He was under the impression that he was racing his dad for third place, not Zirkle for first. The younger Seavey did not realize that he was racing to make sure the Iditarod title stayed with the Seavey family.
“I wasn’t in a big hurry,” Seavey said. “I was racing for third, and I was telling my dogs, ‘We’ve done our work here, you guys have done a good job, let’s go home. No rush, guys, let’s take it easy.’”
When he approached the finish line Seavey could not believe the fanfare and commotion for what he thought was the third-place finisher.
“I just found out that I won,” Seavey said following the race. “I think you guys knew before I did.”
Seavey made his dad and grandfather proud. He broke the all-time Iditarod record, previously set in 2011, by finishing the race in eight days, 13 hours, four minutes and 19 seconds. The record breaking run was five hours and 42 minutes faster than the record that John Baker set three years ago. Along with bragging rights, Seavey also receives $50,000 in winnings along with a brand new truck. Of course, there is also the pride that comes with making sure the Iditarod championship stays with the Seavey family for another year.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika
The Epoch Times