Tuesday, March 12, 2024

"THANK YOU! See you in Nome!"

Dallas Seavey pulled the hook at 7:53am in White Mountain and his team of 10 Alaskan Huskies trotted back out onto the Iditarod Trail, they have just 77 miles until they reach the finish line. Seavey has a three hour lead over current second place team of Matt Hall. Should Dallas maintain his lead he will achieve an historic sixth victory in the Last Great Race.

While it may seem like this is a runaway win for Dallas Seavey, the veteran musher knows not to celebrate just yet. Just ten years ago Dallas was third out of White Mountain following well behind the leader Jeff King who was nearly three hours ahead of Seavey. Aliy Zirkle was chosen to play spoiler having left White Mountain an hour behind King. As the trackers made their way through the Topkok Hills it looked like everything was going to stay as it was. No one was gaining, and King wasn't faltering...

...until he did. Halfway from the hills to the checkpoint of Safety King's tracker stalled. And stayed stalled. Reports came in of hurricane force winds in the Blowhole. Joe Runyan blogged that anyone out there was risking their life. A midnight, Jeff King hit his SOS button ending his race. He was blown off trail with no way to continue. Aliy Zirkle in the meantime was totally unaware of Jeff's misfortune and made it to the checkpoint of Safety completely rattled by the storm. She was advised to stay and wait until the winds died down. She had a two hour lead on Dallas and it seemed the right idea.

Then Dallas came into Safety and quickly signed out - he didn't want to be in the wind anymore than he had to be, and with no real barrier from the wind for the dogs it was better to keep moving in his opinion than sit there and wait it out. He was unaware Aliy was still there. Unaware that Jeff was not in Nome. 

Dallas won his second Iditarod that night in crazy dramatic fashion.

A similar storm hit in 2022, Dallas didn't win that year, but he came awfully close to it. We can sit and rehash the fairness of Brent Sass getting a message on his InReach device telling him to get moving as Dallas was still moving while Sass hunkered down to wait out the storm, but it's done and over with. Sass managed to hold Dallas off, but again Dallas proved that while one team is stuck in the final leg another can make progress. If anyone knows that the race ain't over in White Mountain, it's Seavey.

Faster finishes from White Mountain to Nome take 10 hours, sometimes they can take 11 to 12 hours. If Dallas manages to stay first and doesn't get stalled in the Topkok Hills or The Blowhole outside of Safety, look for a finish around 5:30pm AKST tonight.

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