The champion of the 2013 Iditarod sled dog race was crowned late Tuesday evening when Mitch Seavey crossed the finish line in Nome. Seavey, who also won the event back in 2004, completed the 1000-mile long course in just 9 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes. In claiming the victory the 53-year old musher also became the oldest person to ever win the race. Seavey managed to hold off a late surge from second place finisher Aliy Zirkle, who reached the finish line just 23 minutes behind the champ. That gap represents the narrowest margin of victory in the event’s storied history. This is the second year in a row that Zirkle finished as the runner-up in Nome and by now she’s probably seen enough of the Seavey family. Last year she was edged out by Mitch’s son Dallas, who finished fourth this time out. Like his father, the younger Seavey also holds an Iditarod age record. At the time of his win last year, he was only 25 years old.
Four-time champ Jeff King proved he still has plenty of competitive fire in the tank, nabbing a third place finish this year. Ray Redington Jr rounded out the top five.
Despite the fact that the race has been officially won, there are still a number of dog sled teams still out on the course. They’ll slowly wander into Nome over the next few days, where each and every one of them will be greeted with plenty of fanfare. In keeping with Iditarod tradition, the final musher to make it to the end will be awarded a red lantern to commemorate their efforts.
For the Seavey clan, racing in the Iditarod is a family tradition. Mitch’s father Dan competed in the inaugural edition of the race held back in 1973 and served as an inspiration for his son to get his start in the sport. In addition to Dallas, two of Mitch’s other three sons, Danny and Tyrell, have raced in the event as well. The youngest Seavey, Conway, won the Junior Iditarod in 2012 at the age of 15. He’ll likely be in the field in a few years too.
In order to win this epic event, which is branded as “The Last Great Race,” a musher needs to have a combination of skill, experience and stamina. Covering a thousand miles of Alaskan backcountry on a dog sled in the dead of winter –in under ten days no less – is certainly an impressive feat. Congratulations to Mitch Seavey on this big win.
[Photo Credit: Bill Roth/AP]