The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Heidi Zemach and Annette Shacklett
The Seward Phoenix LOG 

Dallas wins, Mitch third

 

Sam Wasson | For The LOG

Dallas Seavey comes down Nome's Front Street to win the 42nd Iditarod.

In a chain of events that defied prediction, Dallas Seavey won the 42nd Iditarod early on Tuesday morning and did it in record time. It was Dallas' second Iditarod win in three years, and the second closest finish in the race's history.

Monday night four-time winner Jeff King held the lead out of White Mountain with Aliy Zirkle just behind him. The wind was blowing some 65 mph across an icy trail on the way into the last checkpoint at Safety, and blew King and his dog team off the trail into a pile of driftwood where he remained for over an hour and a half. Zirkle, without knowing that King was there, passed him to become the first musher into Safety. Rather than press on, however, Zirkle stopped in Safety after hearing from snow machiners that the winds had blown their sleds over. An hour and a quarter later, at 1:16 a.m., Dallas Seavey pulled into Safety, but stayed only three minutes, not even knowing that he was in the lead. Zirkle quickly pulled her team together and left 19 minutes later, chasing him down.

Dallas held the lead with just seven dogs and crossed under the burled arch in Nome, running behind his dog team, at 4:04:19 a.m. with Zirkle just 2 minutes and 22 seconds behind him, with 11 dogs.

Mitch Seavey, Dallas' father, and last year's Iditarod champion, followed in third place at 07:39:40 a.m.

All three obliterated John Baker's record time of 8 days 18 hours 46 minutes and 39 seconds set in 2011. Dallas' overall time was 8 days 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds. Zirkle covered the course in 8 days 13 hours 6 minutes and 41 seconds. Mitch totaled 8 days 16 hours 39 minutes and 40 seconds for the race.

At the finish line, Dallas didn't realize that he'd won at first. He hadn't seen King's name on the sign-in sheet when he checked in at Safety, but figured that King had signed a different sheet. He thought he was competing with his father Mitch for third place. Upon his arrival he asked where King and Zirkle were. In winds that strong and weather that thick, teams of mushers can pass one another without even knowing it. Staying on the trail is their top concern.

Dallas is fond of the come-from-behind approach to racing, which helped him win the race two years ago. He calls it "building a monster." But this time, even while speeding past other teams in the last three days and posting some of the fastest times in the race, he told reporters that winning was not even in the back of his mind, and that his dog team was built more for endurance than speed.

While more seasoned mushers thought they'd rest and wait out the worst part of the storm, Dallas and his team plowed on through.

This year's Iditarod will be talked about for decades to come. With very little snow on the trail, seasoned racers found themselves scratching the race, bruised and battered, suffering broken limbs and shredded sleds. The racers seemed to worry greatly about one another, and at times focused more on surviving nature than winning.

Dallas, 26, is the son of Mitch Seavey, the 2004 and 2013 Iditarod Champion, and grandson of one of the original race founder's, Dan Seavey of Seward. He wrestled for Skyview High School, and is a high school state champion, a Junior National champion and represented the 2005 Junior. World Team. He and his wife Jen, another Iditarod veteran, moved to Willow in 2009 to train their dogs for the Iditarod. In 2011 he won the Yukon Quest and in 2012 became the youngest Iditarod champion in its history. He and Jen have a 3-year-old daughter named Annie.

Mitch Seavey was born in Minnesota, but moved to Seward in 1963 as a youngster along with his two siblings and parents Dan and Shirley Seavey. He grew up in Seward, graduated from Seward High School, raises sled dogs and helps out with the family business. Mitch and Janine have four sons, three of whom have run the Iditarod, Danny, Dallas and Tyrell. Conway, their youngest, recently won the Junior Iditarod for the second year in a row. Conway, who will turn 18 and could qualify for the Iditarod next year, is setting his racing aside to focus on his career as a singer-songwriter, however.

Mitch, in his early 50s, beat Aliy Zirkle by 23 minutes 39 seconds last year, and became the oldest Iditarod champion in the history of the race. His favorite hobbies are currently his granddaughters.

Dallas' older brother Danny, 31, who lives adjacent to the family homestead in Seward, is also running the 2014 Iditarod, but with a team of puppies. It's a way of training the next generation of young racing dogs, not actually winning a race. Danny manages the family's Ididaride sled dog business in Seward. He and his wife Safia have two daughters, Allikz, 7, and Emma, 1. This is Danny's third Iditarod. He and his lead dog Robin can be seen on episodes of "The Biggest Loser," "Ace of Cakes," "Alaska State Troopers," "Extremely Alaska," "Who's Wedding is it Anyway," "1001 Places to See Before You Die" and the film, "Big Miracle."

Dan Seavey, 75, a former Seward schoolteacher, has established himself as a patriarch and a pioneer of the Iditarod. In addition to raising dogs and running the Iditarod, the last time being in 2012, the elder Seavey helped get the Iditarod Trail designated as a National Historic Trail, and works tirelessly to assure that Seward stays on the map as Mile 0 of the historic trail. He founded the Seward Iditarod Trail Blazers, and works to re-establish the portion of trail from Seward to Crow Pass. A book-signing tour with his new book, "The First Great Race; Alaska's 1973 Iditarod," has kept him busy lately.

Travis Beals, another Iditarod racer from Seward, was back on the trail to Nome as of press time. He was part of the mad dash out of Shaktoolik, following an 11-hour layover. Travis ran his rookie race last year. He and his wife, Sarah, run their dogs and their sled dog business, Turning Heads Kennel, on Herman Leirer (Exit Glacier) Road, not far from the Seavey homestead.

 

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