Youngest Iditarod race champion crowned in Nome

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:18am EDT

Musher Dallas Seavey of Willow, Alaska, runs his dogs down Front Street to the finish line, winning the 40th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska March 13, 2012. Seavey, competing against both his father and grandfather, won the race on Tuesday, becoming the youngest musher crowned champion of the storied Alaska event. REUTERS/Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz

Musher Dallas Seavey of Willow, Alaska, runs his dogs down Front Street to the finish line, winning the 40th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska March 13, 2012. Seavey, competing against both his father and grandfather, won the race on Tuesday, becoming the youngest musher crowned champion of the storied Alaska event.

Credit: Reuters/Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz

Related Topics

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Dallas Seavey, competing against both his father and grandfather, won the 40th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday, becoming the youngest musher crowned champion of the storied Alaska event. A rare third-generation contestant, 25-year-old Seavey was also the first such member of an Iditarod dynasty to win a race that has grown from an obscure contest into a world-famous sports extravaganza.

Seavey and a team of nine dogs crossed the finish line in the Bering Sea town of Nome with a winning time of nine days, four hours, 29 minutes and 26 seconds after an epic 1,000-mile (1,600-km) trek from Anchorage. Seavey said he felt exhausted just before reaching the trail's end. "It's just now hitting me. About 4 miles ago, I just crashed," he said in the finish chute. Aliy Zirkle, who was vying to become the first woman to win the Iditarod since 1990, finished in second place, reaching Nome exactly one hour after Seavey.

Seavey also defeated his father, 2004 Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey, who was in seventh place as of Tuesday afternoon.

Dallas Seavey's 74-year-old grandfather, Dan Seavey, a veteran of the very first Iditarod in 1973, also competed this year and was in 53rd place when his grandson crossed the Nome finish line.

The winner of the Iditarod race in 1977, Rick Swenson, had long held the record as the youngest champion. He was 26. The new champion lives in Willow, Alaska, where he maintains his own sled-dog kennel. This year's winning time was well off the record pace of eight days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds, set last year by John Baker.

Heavy snows made for slow travel on parts of the trail this year, but conditions were considered safer than usual. Seavey, a former state wrestling champion, used his athletic training to gain an edge in the race. He spent much of the journey running along his sled, lightening the load for his dogs. He wore custom-made snow boots that incorporated elements of running shoes. For winning this year's contest, Seavey will take home a $50,400 cash prize and a new truck, part of a total race purse valued at $550,000. At the finish line, Seavey said: "My grandfather is in the race, my dad is in the race and myself in the race ... It's a great reminder of sled dogs and how important the heritage of sled dogs is to Alaska." Sixty-six mushers and their dog teams started the Iditarod on March 3 in Anchorage. As of Tuesday, 11 had dropped out of competition. They included four-time champion Jeff King, who was attempting a comeback after sitting out of last year's race.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
SledDogAction wrote:
There’s no way Dallas Seavey ran next to his sled for most of the Iditarod. His shoes were heavy and fairly inflexible, there was deep snow on the ground and he had a huge blister on his toe. This article is Rosen’s typical Iditarod hype.

Mar 14, 2012 4:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Lucy_Shelton wrote:
The Iditarod is a once-a-year race for a group of egoist mushers to win money and bragging rights. The whole scheme of year-round training of the dogs and tethering (when not training or racing) each dog to his/her own small enclosure is no way to treat loyal companions. Tethering is considered inhumane and illegal in many communities. These magnificent dogs are treated like objects,–little machines that are only used for the sole purpose of mushers winning a brutal race.

This is how 2011 Yukon Quest/2012 Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey keeps his dogs: youtube.com/watch?v=ooKqzH…

According to the “Current Standings” posted March 16, 7:09 AM, 34 of the 66 mushers have finished, no musher with all 16 of their dogs, 12 mushers have scratched so far, most due to the fact that “the dogs weren’t enjoying the trip”. Hundreds of dogs have been dropped at check points due to injury, illness, exhaustion, etc., – the list goes on. This means it is too grueling for them. These dogs are pushed beyond their limits which is cruel and serves no responsible purpose. The Iditarod is too long, and the conditions and rough terrain too grueling for these dogs. Too many dogs have died,–142 as far as we know. The Iditarod is clearly exploitation of sled dogs, and should have ended long ago

Mar 16, 2012 1:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.