Don’t get Dallas and Mitch Seavey wrong. They love each other, even though they might not say it in so many words. But they’re also fierce competitors, more than happy to pass each other on the nearly 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to be the first to reach Nome.
The then-25-year-old Dallas became the race’s youngest winner in 2012, only to be replaced by his dad, Mitch, who at age 53 became the Iditarod’s oldest winner last year. While they play out their rivalry, they might need to look behind another shoulder as Dallas’ younger brother, Conway, establishes himself in the sport.
The Seaveys shy away from the term "mushing dynasty," but Mitch Seavey, who also won in 2004 acknowledges, "we sure mush a lot."
"We got a couple of good-sized, serious kennels banging away at it," Mitch Seavey said. "You’re bound to get your share" of championships.
You can count three for the family in the first 41 editions of the Iditarod.
Mitch’s father, Dan, helped organize the first Iditarod in 1973 and finished third that year.
When Dallas won the race two years ago, all three men were on the trail. Dan Seavey that year, at age 74, ran his fifth Iditarod to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail, and his trip to Nome was sponsored by the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance.
"We’ve certainly got a legacy that dad handed down to us, and then myself on to Dallas and beyond," Mitch Seavey said. "We’ve learned a lot and hopefully we’ve helped each other as we go along."
This year’s Iditarod started Sunday in Willow, and will finish sometime early next week in Nome, on Alaska’s western coast. In the early going, four-time champion Martin Buser was the first to leave the Rohn checkpoint Monday. The jockeying for the lead remains fluid until mushers began taking a mandatory 24 hour layover and two eight-hour rests.
Besides Mitch and Dallas, there is another Seavey in this year’s race, Dallas’ older brother, Danny, 31. He jokingly told Anchorage television station KTVA during the ceremonial start Saturday that if he were to finish ahead of either Mitch or Dallas, Plan A for both of those men went horribly wrong.
Both Danny and Mitch live in Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Dallas has his kennel about 150 miles north, in Willow, where he admits he has little contact with the outside world and doesn’t own a television.
"I don’t leave my training compound if I can help it," said Dallas. "If I leave, it’s by dog team, not by vehicle."
When asked if the Seaveys are the first family of mushing, he told a reporter, "I’ll leave that to your type."
But five family members, including another son, Tyrell, have raced in the Iditarod, and they’re not done yet.
Another of Mitch’s sons, 17-year-old Conway, last month won the Junior Iditarod, adding to his title from 2012. And he’ll be eligible for the full Iditarod next year.