JUNEAU, Alaska (Reuters) - Veteran Alaska musher Dallas Seavey claimed his second straight Iditarod Sled Dog Race title early Wednesday morning, crossing the finish line in Nome about 30 miles (48 kilometers) ahead of his father Mitch Seavey.
The 27-year-old Seavey claimed his third title in four years battling high winds and temperatures that reached 50 below zero while guiding a team of dogs nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) across the state’s wilderness.
“It’s been doing what I love: mushing dogs, making it fun and keeping it fun,” said Seavey, who finished the race in eight days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and six seconds - five hours slower than his record-setting performance last year. “The wins are a result of doing what we love.”
A throng of race fans lined Front Street in downtown Nome to welcome Seavey upon his arrival to this coastal community around 4:15 a.m. (08:15 am EDT).
The Iditarod commemorates a 1925 mission to bring diphtheria serum by dog-sled relays to Nome, on Alaska’s west coast. This year’s race is the 43rd annual event and each of the last four has been won by either Dallas Seavey or his father Mitch Seavey.
Mitch won his first in 2004 and won again in 2013, becoming the oldest champion at age 53. Dallas won in 2012, becoming the youngest musher to win at age 25, and won again last year.
In mid-February, race officials deemed sections of the trail unsafe and looked to an alternate route.
“This is a very difficult trail,” said Seavey, who led the last 170 miles (274 kilometers). “I think a lot of folks expected it to be easy because it was flat. It was a challenging race. We loved every minute of it.”
Dallas Seavey becomes the seventh competitor to win the race at least three times. Rick Swenson holds the top spot for victories with five.
Seavey takes home a $70,000 winner’s check and a pickup truck.
“I guess it’s time to starting picking out a color,” Seavey said.
Editing by Curtis Skinner, Scott Malone, Larry King and Lisa Lambert