Iditarod Leaders Leave White Mountain, Head For Nome

The top teams have left White Mountain and they are on their way to the Iditarod finish line in Nome. Spectators are unlikely to see a major shakeup in the front end of the field, but this year’s race is likely to end with career bests for many of the teams up front.

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As Tuesday progressed in White Mountain, it became clear that Dallas Seavey was the likely winner of this year’s Iditarod.

“I’m starting to think there’s a chance we could do this,” he said.

Mitch Seavey arrives in Ruby. (Photo by Emily Schwing)
Mitch Seavey arrives in Ruby. (Photo by Emily Schwing)

Seavey has won the race twice before, but this year, he has says he’s had more fun than ever driving his team.

“You know we’re having a blast out here, we’re just musing,” he said.

Seavey left White Mountain with a four hour lead on another Seavey – his father, Mitch. Race officials joked that Dallas ought to stick around for a few extra hours and race Mitch in to Nome.

“No, I have too much respect for my competitors to do any showboating like that,” Dallas said. “I’m going to take every minute of my lead. If the wind starts blowing or if I end up having to carry ten of eleven dogs, this race, we’re so used to things going well, that we thing ‘oh that will never happen,’ it does happen.”

When he pulled into the checkpoint, Mitch Seavey said it’s been a long-time dream to see his family dominate the Iditarod leader board

“Well of course our dream finish would be one-two, with me in front of course,” Mitch said. “I thought it was agreed upon by the whole family. I just didn’t know how that would work out.…nah, it’s a great day, we’ll see how it all pans out. We still have to make it to the finish line.”

Both Mitch and Dallas Seavey are very competitive men, with extremely fast dog teams. The older Seavey knows better than to try and catch his son.

“That’s another thing about running tired dog teams,” Mitch said. “You don’t want to upset the apple cart. You just move along at whatever they are comfortable with and don’t let them fall asleep on you, but you can’t start whooping it up and going rodeo style, because you might not even make it.”

Seavey says it’s unlikely Aaron Burmeister can make up enough time to overtake his team. Even so, Burmeister remains hopeful.

“Well that’s a possibility,” Burmeister said. “That’s kind of the goal to be able to catch Mitch and I have no idea where Jessie is behind me.”

Jessie Royer arrived for her eight-hour layover less than two hours behind Burmeister, but she says the last few runs up the coast have taken a lot of energy out of her dog team.

“He’s mentioned before, I’m one person he does not want behind him at want mountain, because I have caught him a lot of times,” she said.

Royer says she tried to catch up, but she is also realistic about what her dog team can do in the next 70 miles.

“If I had caught like hour on him coming here, and all I had left was an hour on the way to Nome, sure,” she said. “But I’m not going to catch two hours on the way to Nome.”

The top few teams are likely to finish in the order they arrived in White Mountain, making for a less dramatic race in comparison to previous years, but they all know the race isn’t over until their dog teams pass under the burled arch.