2013 Iditarod Winner Is Oldest Ever

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]

The 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race Gets Underway Today!

The 2013 Iditarod sled dog race gets underway today in Anchorage, Alaska, where some of the best mushers in the world have gathered to take part in the 1000-mile journey that culminates in Nome. This morning, 66 mushers will set out from the starting line in front of a throng of cheering fans as part of the ceremonial start. The race will officially get underway tomorrow when the teams will restart in Willow and the competition truly begins.

This year marks the 40th running of the Iditarod, which is billed as “The Last Great Race.” The event was originally created to commemorate the famous 1925 dog sled run to Nome that delivered serum to fight off a deadly diphtheria epidemic just in the nick of time. It was during that run that musher Gunnar Kaasen, and his famous lead dog Balto, rose to fame.

Today, the Iditarod has grown to become the most popular sporting event in Alaska, drawing relatively large crowds (by Alaskan standards) on an annual basis. The mushers and their dogs are well known throughout the state and often find themselves local celebrities. Most of the competitors live and train in Alaska, but as the event has grown in popularity, mushers now come from all over the globe.

This year’s field is another deep one with a large number of possible contenders. Past champions such as Jeff King, Lance Mackey and John Baker should all be in the running, although last year’s winner Dallas Seavey seems to be the odds on favorite to win the race once again. With his victory in the 2012 event, Seavey became the youngest winner ever and he is looking to add to an already impressive resume.

A few weeks ago there was some concern about the condition of the trail, which lacked snow along certain sections. Since then, however, snow has been plentiful and the route is in top shape for the start of the race. As always, there are some areas that will be more challenging than others, but for the most part the teams should find good snow to run on.

You can follow the Iditarod over the next few weeks at the race’s official website.

[Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz/IditarodPhotos.com]

Ski Town Holidays: Not Just For Skiers

It sounds crazy, but not all ski-town tourists are there to downhill ski. In fact, many don’t even know how. I’ll also let you in on a local’s secret: not all permanent residents of ski towns know how to ski, and of those who do, many can’t even afford a season pass.

The fact is, there are now more options than ever for non-skiers and those on a tight budget to engage in other winter sports, if they’re not willing or able to hit the slopes. I know many couples that have differing ideas of a ski vacation: one loves alpine skiing, while the other is happier sitting by a fire drinking hot toddies or shopping. They make it work.

Regardless of your mutual or differing snow-centric passions, ski town holidays can work for everyone. Most resorts now have Nordic centers and outfitters that offer at least some combination of the below list, so there’s no excuse not to get out there this winter.

Nordic/cross-country skiing (free/cheap rentals!)
Snowshoeing (ditto)
Dog sledding (please do your research beforehand, to make sure the business has no animal welfare citings)
Cultural tours
Adaptive sports
Skjioring (when a skier is pulled by a dog or horse0
Hot springs
Sleigh rides
Horseback riding

[Photo credit: Flickr user US Embassy Sweden]

Winter riding at The Home Ranch, in Clark, Colorado (near Steamboat Springs)

25-year-old Dallas Seavey wins 2012 Iditarod

The 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race came to an exciting end Tuesday evening when 25-year-old Dallas Seavey claimed victory in the 1000-mile race. By crossing the finish line first, he also became the youngest person to ever win the event.

Held annually in Alaska, the Iditarod has become the state’s most popular sporting event. The racers, along with their teams of powerful dogs, begin the race in Anchorage and follow a historical trail all the way to Nome. Back in 1925 that town faced a diphtheria epidemic and mushers raced along the same trail to deliver life-saving medicine in time. The modern day Iditarod commemorates that daring feat and salutes the men and their dogs who risked their lives to save others.

In order to win the event Seavey had to fend off plenty of competition from a tough and experienced field. In the end, he finished an hour ahead of second place musher Aliy Zirkle and while an hour may seem like a large gap, when you consider that the competitors have been racing for ten days straight, you realize that it is actually a narrow margin. Veteran musher Ramey Smyth arrived in Nome in third place after making a late charge to the front of the pack.For Seavey, dog sledding is a family affair. His father Mitch won the event back in 2004 and had a respectable seventh place finish this year. Grandfather Dan raced in the original Iditarod 40 years ago and as of this writing he is holding down the 52nd position in this years race as well. He is still a few days from reaching the finish line where he will undoubtedly give Dallas a proper congratulations.

Over the course of the next few days the last of the competitors will straggle across the finish line in Nome. For a full leaderboard and more information on the race visit Iditarod.com.

[Photo credit: Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News)

The 2012 Iditarod sled dog race begins today!

The 2012 Iditarod sled dog race gets underway this morning with the ceremonial start taking place on the streets of Anchorage, Alaska. The annual event, dubbed the “Last Great Race,” pits some of the best mushers in the world against one another on a course that stretches for nearly a thousand miles across remote wilderness before eventually ending in Nome.

This morning the 66 men and women who have entered the competition will set out on the first leg of the race – an 11-mile run that ends at nearby Campbell Airstrip. From there they’ll pack up their dogs and sleds and be transported by motor vehicle to the town of Willow, where the race will officially get underway tomorrow. Ahead of them is a 975 mile course — which is slightly shorter than previous years — that will test both their physical and mental endurance.

Amongst the contenders for this year’s race are defending champ John Baker and Iditarod veteran Hugh Neff, who is coming off a big win at last month’s Yukon Quest. Legendary mushers Lance Mackey and Jeff King are back as well and both are always a threat to finish first in Nome. Former champ Mitch Seavey has returned for another run too, as has his 74-year old father Dan and 24-year old son Dallas.

The fastest sled dog team is expected to reach the finish line in approximately eight to ten days depending on weather and trail conditions. Unlike many of the lower 48 states, Alaska has actually had quite a bit of snow this year which could slow down some of the teams that will be breaking trail. Still, covering 975 miles of remote wilderness during winter in less than two week’s time is an impressive feat.

Good luck to all the competitors.

[Photo credit: Zeledi via WikiMedia]