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At 25, Dallas Seavey is youngest musher to win Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
NOME, Alaska (AP) ' Dallas Seavey won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Tuesday, becoming the youngest musher to win the nearly 1,000 mile race across Alaska.
Seavey, who turned 25 on March 4, the day the race officially started north of Anchorage, was the first musher to reach Nome, coming into to the Bering Sea coastal community at 7:29 p.m. Tuesday.
The previous youngest winner was the race's only five-time champion, who won his first Iditarod at age 26 in 1977. Rick Swenson, now 61, is in this year's race, and was running in the middle of the pack.
It's a family affair for the Seaveys. Dallas's father, Mitch, 52, won the race in 2004. This year, Dallas' 74-year-old grandfather, Dan, is running in his fifth Iditarod to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail. His trip to Nome is being sponsored by the Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance to highlight the rich history of the trail.
Two of 1978 winner Dick Mackey's sons have also won, Rick Mackey in 1983 and Lance Mackey from 2007-2010.
Seavey was the first musher to leave White Mountain after completing a mandatory eight-hour layover to rest his dogs. The second musher out was Aliy Zirkle, and Seavey maintained his lead for the last 77 miles of the trail from White Mountain to the finish line in Nome.
Seavey has been described by his own father as "fiercely competitive." The former Alaska high school wrestling champion, who also spent a year at the U.S. Olympic Training Center before turning his attention back to dogs, was the first musher to reach the White Mountain checkpoint at 12:14 a.m. Alaska time.
Sixty-six teams began the race on March 4. Eleven mushers have scratched, including the latest, Tom Thurston of Oak Creek, Colo. He left the race Tuesday afternoon in Unalakleet over concern for his dogs. He was down to eight dogs when he scratched.
Among the 55 mushers left on the trail are 12 rookies. Brent Sass is doing the best among the rookies, at 13th place on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old is originally from Excelsior, Minn., but moved to Fairbanks, where he operates Wild and Free Mushing, his kennel and guiding business.
Sass got a surprise when he arrived at the Unalakleet checkpoint on Sunday. His high school friend, Mike Coumbe of Minneapolis, flew to Alaska to cheer on his friend ' with an unusual twist. He attempted to dye his naturally dark brown hair to match the black and yellow team colors of Sass's kennel.
It didn't go that well, and instead he wound up with mostly yellow and green patches, in varying patterns.
"It turned it into a zebra and a seal, I guess, from what I'm hearing," Coumbe said Monday after arriving in Nome for the finish.
"We tried to do black and yellow and it turned out into a bunch of different colors with stripes and polka dots, but so far, everybody's liking it," said Coumbe, who is also a co-host of the satellite television show "Bowhunting Addiction, TV."
Brent's dad, Mark Sass, has spent the last three months cheering on his son at various checkpoints in several races, including the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod.
He's taken three months off from his remodeling contracting business in Minneapolis, and said he's put 5,500 miles on his truck in that time following races.
Mark Sass is a recreational musher, and loves to celebrate his son's accomplishments.
"He just loves doing it, and he's not going to do it at the expense of his dogs," he said. "He's a true lover of the sport. And he loves what he does; that's pretty neat. I'm proud to be his dad when I can say that."