By Joseph Robertia
Photo by Joseph Robertia. Mitch Seavey prepares to leave the starting line of the Tustumena 200 several years ago. Seavey is an annaul Iditarod contender, joined this year by his father, Dan Sr, and Dallas, one of his sons.
In the world of mushing, few families can claim as many Iditarod accomplishments as the Seavey clan. The now 74-year-old Dan Seavey Sr., of Seward, helped organize the first Iditarod back in 1973. He ran the race in its inaugural and second years, took a hiatus, returned in 1997 and 2001, and is back again for the 2012 race.
His son, Mitch, of Sterling, won the Iditarod in 2004 and has also earned nine top-10 finishes out of 18 attempts at the race. Mitch’s son, Dallas, formerly of Sterling, has run the Iditarod five times, placing in the top 10 the last three years, including a career-best fourth-place finish in the 2011 Last Great Race, which came just weeks after Dallas won the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
Mitch’s other sons, Tyrell and Danny, have also both completed the Iditarod, as well as his daughter-in-law, Jen, who is Dallas’ wife. Mitch’s youngest son, Conway, ran the Jr. Iditarod in 2011, won the Jr. T in January, and has been cited on several occasions as stating he intends to run the Iditarod when he turns 18.
“We joke about it all the time. We wonder how different things would be if instead of getting those first sled dogs I’d gotten into stamp collecting,” Dan Seavey said. “But, I didn’t, and sled dogs have just always been a part of us Seaveys. They’ve just always been.”
As the 2012 Iditarod takes shape, three Seaveys will again take to the runners: Dan, Mitch and Dallas. The younger members of the Seavey clan will be racing to win, while Dan will be running to commemorate. After years of serving on the boards of directors for both the Iditarod Trail Committee and the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, he has returned to the runners this season to emphasize the centennial anniversary of the Iditarod National Historic Trail.
“Not since 2001, when Mitch, Danny and I ran it, have three generations of Seaveys been out there, so that is very meaningful to me. But I’m also being sponsored by the Iditarod National Historic Trail Alliance to highlight and educate people about the four decades of the Iditarod race and 100 years of the trail,” he said.
He’ll be educating villagers along the way about the important role their communities have played in the history of the race and trail. That will hamper any attempt at keeping a race pace, but Dan said he doesn’t intend to lollygag.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, so I intend to do as good a job as I can, and I have no doubts I’ll make it to Nome. I feel better now than I did in ’97. I’ve been blessed with good health, so it’s not like I’ll have a whip sled of pills behind me, and while I haven’t raced in a while, I’ve mushed recreationally every year. I’m always out there, so it’s not like I’ve forgotten what end of the dog the harness goes on or anything,” Dan said.
“There’ve been a lot of advancements over the years, though. In ’97 I was a week faster than my first race, but I placed 30 positions further back, and I’m expecting more of the same this year. My only goal is to make it by the banquet because I don’t like cold food,” he said. Continue reading