NOME, Alaska — Mushers always pose with their lead dogs under the burled arch in Nome, Alaska, after winning the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
When Dallas Seavey won, he posed with Diesel and Guinness, but he could have used a little more podium space.
“I had five lead dogs on this team, and I had to have every single one of them to do their parts of the race,” Seavey said shortly after becoming the youngest champion in the race’s 40-year history.
Seavey turned 25 on March 4, the day the race officially started north of Anchorage. He was the first musher to reach Nome, his nine dogs trotting under the famous burled-arch finish line in the Bering Sea coastal community at 7:29 p.m. Alaska time on Tuesday.
Some dogs are better in bad weather, others when speed is needed.
Guinness was only lead for a short bit of the race but earned the podium spot because of her sure-footedness on glacier ice near the Rohn checkpoint.
The glare ice combined with windy conditions swept many mushers into driftwood.
“I stopped in Rohn, took her booties off so she’d have a little more traction, and we drove right there like I had a little remote control lead dog up front,” Seavey said.
“She could have saved me hours in that one short stretch right there.”
Seavey described his dog team as a team that had the ability to win the Iditarod, but not a team that could win the race “no matter what.”
He said it was a fragile team, but a perfect team if built correctly.
“We spent most of the race building a monster, a dog team that could not be stopped,” he said.
But it required exercising a lot of patience, holding back the young team until it was time to set them loose.
“By the end of the race, we were ready to start using that stored energy,” Seavey said.
Once he did take command of the race, at the Unalakleet checkpoint, he said it took every bit of the dogs’ ability – not to mention his own – to fend off mushers Aliy Zirkle and Aaron Burmeister.
Zirkle finished second, and Ramey Smyth came in third.