Tuesday, March 12, 2024

No one has won it more

Dallas Seavey and his string of ten dogs that are "all heart" rode into Nome at 5:16:08pm Tuesday. The 37 year old musher cheered and pumped his arms as he ran alongside the sled into the chute. With a crowd cheering and speakers blasting the announcer's words to the crowd the little dog team that could hardly seemed phased.

It's been a tough season for Seavey. In November during a training run with Seavey, Isaac Teaford, and handler Josiah Liebe a snow machine drove into the team driven by Liebe. Several dogs were killed while three were injured with life altering injuries. Josiah was driving a team filled with Dallas' core Iditarod team and it was suddenly gone. On top of that were the horrible sounds and visions of the carnage Dallas came upon when he got word that the team behind him had been hit. It wasn't something you just shrug and move on with.

Seavey borrowed dogs from his father, three-time Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey, and rebuilt the team and plan for the race season. He tested them out on the Copper Basin. He tweaked the roster. He tweaked the game plan. Everything was plugging along, but he just wasn't getting the same vibe from the team as in years past. They weren't the machine (or monster as his other teams were called) he was used to.

Iditarod start weekend rolled around and his game face was on. He looked prepared but he hedged his bets in interviews. He wasn't yes we're going to win, it was yes we're going to make damn sure we do everything we can to be in the mix so that if we can get position to win we can. Then a moose ran into the team not even 12 hours later. A dog was critically injured. Dallas had some sort of mental shift and he "lost his head" and didn't do what he thought he did. He didn't communicate properly with officials. He didn't gut the moose properly. He leaves the injured dog that he thinks just has a deep cut in Finger Lake with the race vets and by Rainy Pass he's getting a call asking if he wants them to perform surgery on the dog. What?!

In McGrath he's told that race officials convened and determined he did not gut the moose sufficiently, he was assessed a two-hour penalty that would be tacked onto his mandatory 24hour rest. What was supposed to be a 25 hour rest was now going to be 27 hours. He would be two hours behind. He accepted all of this and moved forward. In Cripple on his 24 he conceded he probably wasn't going to win this year, he was hoping for fifth.

When asked at the finish line how he came back from being five hours behind the leader out of Cripple to winning by three or more hours Dallas explained he has two sides. "There's the side of just taking care of the dogs and getting to the next checkpoing, and then my analytical side where I am analizing and studying everything." He said when he did the numbers and realized he had a chance, he took it.

"I knew that to win six it was going to have to be hard. You can't win six and it be easy. It can't be not special." Dallas spoke after he came into Nome acknowledging that while his first one will always be the most special, number six just may always be the hardest. He spoke of dogs that maybe weren't the cohesive team he was used to but they were all heart. He choked up mentioning the hard season, what he and the team and his kennel have been through. What they are still going through.

Rick Swenson held the record of most wins for 30 years before Dallas matched it in 2021. Rick's last win wasn't a pretty one either. It was hard. And it was in a time when you didn't have an Insider camera watching your every move in a checkpoint or a GPS tracker attached to your sled. There's a reason why Jeff King would tweet out to Tom Brady the year Brady won his fifth - but at the time it didn't look like it as he was down by 25 points or so - "The fifth one's a Bitch!". 

It was said that the record would never be matched or broken. For 30 years that rang true. Then it was, well, you can match it, but you won't break it. And now here we are. Six wins in. Dallas has grown up a lot in the 12 years since his first. He's become even wiser, even more wise in how this all shakes down. 

What hasn't changed is the love for the race and his dogs. It was evident as he made his way to the finish line. His tradition of stopping the dogs on the beach before the hustle and bustle of town to thank each dog. To take in the sights, the sounds, the smells - the quiet before the media storm. 

It was evident as he waved to everyone lining Front Street shouting out thank you for coming! It was evident the way he cheered his 10 dogs up into the chute. The way he immediately went to each dog telling them good job and thank you. The laughter and joking he had with the checker (hi Nicolle!). The smiles, the cheers, everything about it was just so Dallas Seavey that kid all those years ago watching his dad come into Nome. Getting excited for Iditarod every year. Hero worshipping the mushers who came before him.

Now Dallas Seavey has been declared the Greatest Of All Time in the sport of Iditarod. Number six was a bitch, but if anyone could do it with as much grit and determination as it takes, it's Dallas. Dallas Seavey.


  1. Go back for 7...please

  2. So well written & thorough!! And on no sleep!!! You are an Iditirod Winner in your own right. Thank you for catching up this armchair musher who’s been too busy for much arm-chairing.

    1. haha, when I'm exhausted I get all mushy so it helps!

  3. Great article Toni

  4. Thank you for this insight! I can't imagine how terrible the crash was on his team and the dogs who survived but are forever changed.

    1. Watching Dallas choke up as he dedicated the race to the dogs no longer living was truly touching. His kennel has had too hard a season so they deserve this moment of celebration.