The 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race came to an end on Tuesday, when 27-year old Dallas Seavey stunned the field with an impressive come from behind victory. It was Seavey’s second win in three years, in the annual race that runs for nearly 1000-miles between from Anchorage to Nome through Alaska’s rugged backcountry.
Seavey’s win was a stunning turn of events in a race that looked like a two-way heat between four-time champ Jeff King, and two-time runner up Aliy Zirkle. King led the way out of the checkpoint at White Mountain, with just one other CP standing between him and the finish line in Nome. But high winds out on the trail blew him off the route and made it difficult to navigate. As a result, Zirkle pulled into first place when she reached the penultimate checkpoint in the town of Safety. For race observers, it seemed that she was finally going to break through and claim the victory that has eluded her for the past two years.
But while she rested her dogs in Safety, Dallas roared in and out of the checkpoint and on towards Nome. Down to just 7 dogs on his team – to Zirkle’s 10 – it seemed unlikely he’d be able to fend off an attack. But he managed a blistering pace over the final 22 miles, and managed to arrive at the finish line just two minutes ahead of his rival.
For Zirkle, this is the third straight year that she’s finished in second place. She lost to Dallas back in 2012 by just a few seconds, and last year she finished as the runner-up to Seavey’s dad Mitch as well. The elder Seavey finished in third place this year, with Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Sonny Lindner rounding out the top five.
Trail conditions during this year’s race were said to be amongst the worst ever in the Iditarod’s 40+ year history. There has been a lack of snow in Alaska this year, and it has been one of the warmest winters – relatively speaking – in recent memory. Those factors helped to make the trail a muddy mess at times, as both the mushers and their dogs, struggled to make progress.
While the 2014 champion may have been crowned, it is important to note that the race is still ongoing for a number of the mushers, most of whom are just in it for the adventure. Over the next day or two, the final teams should reach Nome, bring the curtain down on another edition of the “Last Great Race on Earth.”
Congratulations to Dallas Seavey on another impressive win. It will certainly be interesting to see what the future holds for this young man.