Seavey shrugs off talk of family Iditarod dynasty
NOME, Alaska (AP) A father and his son have won the last four Iditarods, but the current champion isn't willing to call it a family dynasty.
Dallas Seavey, 28, won this year's thousand-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska when he drove his dog team down Front Street and under the famed burled arch in Nome, Alaska, at 4:13 a.m. Wednesday.
He also won the race in 2012 and 2014, and the other victory in 2013 went to his father, Mitch Seavey, who also won in 2004.
''The fact we have won now, I guess, the last four Iditarods is kind of connected and kind of disconnected,'' Dallas Seavey said.
The Seaveys, who live hundreds of miles apart in Alaska, don't have any overlap in their kennels, but mushing is the basis of their relationship.
''I talk to him about mushing more than anything else, and I probably talk to him more than just about anybody,'' Dallas said.
The Seaveys also are known as being hyper-competitive, especially with each other.
When they talk, they discuss philosophy or theories of mushing and share ideas.
''Not the really good ideas,'' Dallas is quick to interject. ''We keep those for ourselves.''
He said if there's anything to the family aspect, it's that they push each other.
''What dad wants to get beat by his son, and what son wants to get beat by his dad?'' he said.
If the Seaveys aren't part of a dynasty, they're at least considered mushing royalty in Alaska. Mitch's father, Dan, ran in the first two Iditarods in 1973 and '74. Mitch's two other sons also are mushers. Danny has competed several times, and the youngest, Conway, has won the Junior Iditarod twice.
If ever there was uncertainty about the outcome of the Iditarod, paving the way for a different winner, this might have been the year.
Warm weather and a lack of snow in much of Alaska forced organizers to move the race farther north on an untested route, utilizing the state's extensive system of frozen rivers as trail.
Many wondered: Would the new trail make the race faster or easier? Would it benefit mushers more accustomed to racing on iced? Or would warm temperatures create new hazards on the rivers?
Dallas Seavey proved the short answer to all those question was a quick no as he came in only about five hours off the record pace he set last year.
But instead of running into warm temperatures and snowless trails, winter returned to Alaska in time for the race.
''We saw a lot of 40, 50 below zero, snow,'' said Dallas, who lives in Willow. ''This was a very tough race. It was not the easy run that a lot of people had anticipated.''
Mitch Seavey, 55, of Sterling, Alaska, finished in second place Wednesday, about four hours after his son. Aaron Burmeister, of Nome, was third, and Jessie Royer of Darby, Montana, was fourth. Aliy Zirkle, of Two Rivers, who finished second the last three years, came in fifth.
Dallas Seavey credited his team for going into monster mode at the end, picking up speed on the wind-whipped western coast as the race wore on.
''I really do believe this is one of the best teams there's ever been,'' he said. ''That may just be overly proud pet parent talking, but they did just win the Iditarod, so that's some credibility.''
He was presented with $70,000 - $19,600 more than last year - and the keys to a new pickup for winning the race.
There are several four-time winners of the Iditarod, but only one five-time winner, fueling speculation that Dallas Seavey could eventually join or even surpass that exclusive club since he's so young.
But he's not going to put any pressure on himself, his family or his kennel, he said, adding that as soon as mushing becomes a job to him, that's the cue to retire.
''The quickest way to get burned out in a sport is feel like you have to do it for the next 20 years,'' he said. ''That's when you feel stuck. I'm going to keep mushing dogs as long as it's what we enjoy to do more than anything else.''
A total of 78 mushers began this year's race March 9 in Fairbanks. Nine racers later scratched, and one was disqualified.
Two dogs have died this year, including one that was hit by a car after getting loose during the ceremonial start. The other dog was on four-time champion Lance Mackey's team.