The top ten teams have arrived in Nome, filling out the upper ranks of the 2017 Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
Winner Mitch Seavey won his third title Tuesday in a record time of eight days, three hours, and 40 minutes, slashing more than seven hours off the previous record.The Seward musher said he started the race with an aggressive schedule that his fast team eclipsed.
“So that’s pretty cool, the trail was a little faster and smother than it might have been. I really strongly believe in preparing the dogs to go do what they’re going to do and you shouldn’t really be surprised that it happens.”
At 57 years old, Seavey is the oldest musher to win the race, breaking the record he set in 2013 as a 53-year-winner.
“And I do feel like I’m getting younger not older, so as long as this is a thing that interests me the most, this is probably what I’ll keep doing. at some point there might be other things when I grow up, but I’m having so much fun with these dogs,” Seavey said.
Dallas Seavey and Nicolas Petit arrived in a tight race for second and third, respectively. Norwegian Joar Ulsom earned fourth place late Tuesday with his team of 8 dogs. The fifth place finisher had twice that number. Jessie Royer did not drop a single team member over the thousand mile race and pulled onto Front Street with each of the 16 dogs she drove from the Fairbanks start.
“I think running the [Yukon]Quest beforehand had a lot to do with—11 of these finished the Quest with me,” Royer said. “So I think that had a lot to do with ‘em. The other five I added to that 11 are all like 5 and 6 time Iditarod finishers. I had one that just finished his 7th Iditarod with me. So all 16 of these dogs are thousand mile finishers. Before I finished this race. But even then, the good lord blessed me with a good bunch of dogs and good luck to get ‘em here.”
Following Royer Wednesday morning were Wade Marrs and Ray Redington Jr. There was a race out of White Mountain for eighth place. Pete Kaiser [KIY-zur] left the checkpoint just two minutes ahead of Aliy Zirkle. But by the time they were speeding into Nome, Zirkle had overtaken him, as she explained just as Nome’s air raid siren heralded Kaiser’s ninth place arrival.
“I didn’t catch him until Topkok,” Zirkle said. “When we couldn’t see very well. And then I rode his skirts almost all the way up Topkok and then he stopped. He was like ‘ok, you can take your turn goin’.’ It’s hard to drive a dog team into a 40 mile an hour wind.”
Kaiser’s finish is the best of any team from off the road system. To round out the top ten, veteran musher Paul Gebhardt notched his eighth career top ten finish.
This story contained contributions from both Zachariah Hughes and Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome.