We have a winner! Early Tuesday morning around 4:04 am, Dallas Seavey won the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race! He ran a blistering pace through the last 77 miles to catch up to the two mushers in front of him. The mushers were four-time Iditarod Champion Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle. Jeff King was an hour ahead of the pack, cruising to his record-tying fifth win Iditarod title, when gusts of wind took him off the course. He was then taken out of the mix just 6 miles from the finish line in Nome, Alaska. That left second and third place mushers Zirkle and Seavey to battle the conditions and each other to win the race, a drama they’ve played out before. who finished in second just 2 minutes behind Seavey. He finished the race in a record time of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 mintutes and 19 seconds! It was not very hard for him to break the previous record set in 2011. This was the 27 year old Dallas Seavey’s second Iditarod title, winning the race in 2012 as well.
Seavey holds the record for being the youngest champion ever; in 2012 he was 25 when he won. Seavey and his family have a history with mushing. His grandfather, Dan Seavey, helped organize the first Iditarod in 1973. His father who works for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Mitch Seavey, has also won the Iditarod race across Alaska. Mitch won in 2006 and last year became the race’s oldest champion at age 53.
Seavey has spent alot of time training with his dogs throughout the years. “I don’t leave my training compound if I can help it,” said Dallas. “If I leave, it’s by dog team, not by vehicle.”
The trail this year has been marked by poor conditions because of a lack of snow after a warm winter by Alaska standards. A number of mushers were injured at the beginning of the race as their sleds ran on gravel near the Dalzell Gorge. One musher, out of Anchorage, Alaska had to be rescued by a National Guard helicopter crew after breaking an ankle. Snowless conditions greeted mushers as they reached the western coast of the nation’s largest state. The race began 2 March in Willow with 69 teams. As of Tuesday morning, 17 mushers had dropped out and one was withdrawn.
The last 77 miles to Nome, Alaska had horrible weather conditions. While the conditions in the Topkok Hills were windy and icy, as such the run was a pleasant one for the mushers. They made good time. Past the shelter cabin at the bottom of Topkok things began to change, first only the wind picking up, with not much snow to blow around, but then the closer the teams came to Safety, the more snow was blowing around and the more the windspeed picked up.
When Dallas crossed the finish line, he appeared surprised to actually win. Apparently he thought he was racing his dad for 3rd place. Only once in the finish he realized what was happening. Upon arrival he was exhausted and needed to catch his breath for a few minutes. A mere 2 minutes later Aliy Zirkle pulled into the finish chute, both teams parking side by side. The fans had 2 mushers to cheer on! This finish, matter of fact this whole crazy race, will be long remembered for its adverse conditions. While the whole trip had been difficult, Aliy mentioned that this last run was the most demanding of all of the runs with the intense winds.
And this race is far from over, for many mushers still battling the harsh conditions to the finish line in Nome, Alaska.