By claiming victory in the 2013 Iditarod earlier this week, 53-year-old musher Mitch Seavey managed to cement his place in the annals of Alaskan lore. Not only did he secure the second Iditarod win of his 20-year career, he also became the oldest person to win the event in its 41-year history. This is in sharp contrast to last year’s race in which Mitch’s son Dallas became the youngest Iditarod winner at the age of 25.
In order to win the 1000-mile sled dog race, Seavey had to hold off a late charge from Aliy Zirkle. She made a bid to become the first female winner of the race in 23 years and was in good form as the lead teams turned toward the finish line in Nome. She ended up finishing 23 minutes behind the winner, making this the closest Iditarod in history. Zirkle finished second to Dallas Seavey last year as well.
The Iditarod is Alaska’s premiere sporting event, drawing in competitors and spectators from around the world. Each year the race begins in Anchorage where the mushers and their dogs set out on the historic Iditarod trail. Over the course of the thousand-mile race, the skill, endurance and strategy of each of the competitors is pushed to the limits as they endure unpredictable weather, harsh temperatures and sometimes dangerous trail conditions.
To earn the win in this year’s edition of the race, Seavey completed the entire course in 9 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes. Considering the fact that each racer must take a couple of mandatory 8-hour breaks – as well as a 24-hour rest – along the way, that is one impressive time.
As of this writing more than half the field has now reached Nome but racing continues for the teams who are still out on the course. Most should wander across the finish line in the next day or two, with the final racer earning the traditional Red Lantern in recognition of their efforts.
Congratulations to Mitch Seavey on the win and to all the racers who have completed the race.
[Photo Credit: Loren Holmes]