Dallas Seavey wins fourth Iditarod crown, sets course record

Dallas Seavey poses with his lead dogs Reef, left, and Tide after finishing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Nome, Alaska. Seavey won his third straight Iditarod, for his fourth overall title in the last five years. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

NOME, Alaska (AP) — Dallas Seavey won his third straight Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Tuesday morning, crossing under the burled arch on Front Street in Nome for his fourth overall title in the last five years.

Seavey completed the nearly 1,000-mile race in a record time of 8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, 16 seconds. He arrived in Nome at 2:20 a.m.

He said at the finish that he spent the first two-thirds of the race “dead on my feet” and had never been so tired.

“This was a heck of a trip, all the way from the start. It was up and down,” Seavey said. “But we made it work.”

The Iditarod started March 6 in Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage, and took mushers across two mountain ranges, down the mighty Yukon River and along the wind-scoured Bering Sea coast.

Eighty-five mushers began the race, but 12 have so far scratched, including four-time champion Lance Mackey. He dropped out Monday, citing personal health concerns.

The Iditarod had its ceremonial start March 5 in Anchorage despite a lack of snow this winter in Alaska’s largest city. About seven train car loads of snow were shipped from Fairbanks, but ultimately were not used.

Seavey’s record time beat his previous record set in 2014 of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, 19 seconds. His only loss in his Iditarod racing career was to his father, Mitch Seavey, who won in 2013.

Mitch Seavey took second place in this year’s race, coming in just after his son early Tuesday morning.

The Seaveys are close, but also competitive.

“Win or lose the race or not doesn’t change the fundamentals of our relationship — that as family and friends,” Mitch Seavey said, reiterating how proud he is of his son’s accomplishments.

“You know, we compete,” he said. “It’s an interesting dynamic to be the biggest competitors and best friends at the same time,” he said.

Dallas Seavey said his record breaking run had to have three elements, a phenomenal dog team, a very good trail and the final element was a nod to his father.

“It requires stiff competition. Without that competition, you’re not going to push the team that will allow them to break the record,” he said. If his father wasn’t within minutes of his team, he said he wouldn’t have urged them along as hard as he did.

The 2016 Iditarod will partly be remembered for an attack on two mushers on the trail near the checkpoint in Nulato. Arnold Demoski is accused of intentionally driving a snowmobile into musher Aliy Zirkle’s team and then the team of four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King. One of King’s dogs was killed, and at least two other dogs were injured.

When Zirkle reached the checkpoint early Saturday morning, an Iditarod camera crew filmed a shaken Zirkle telling a race official: “Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine.”

Alaskans use the term snowmachine for snowmobiles.

Demoski has said he was returning home from a night of drinking when he struck the teams. He was charged with assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. His bail was set at $50,000, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Fairbanks District Court Magistrate Dominick DiBenedetto said during Sunday’s hearing that if the allegations are proven true, they could amount to an act of terrorism, KTVA-TV reported.

Demoski’s attorney, Bill Satterberg, declined comment to The Associated Press on Monday.

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