UPDATE :: Day 7 of the 2017 Iditarod – 57 yr. old Seavey Chased by 3 Twentysomethings
It appears that Mitch Seavey is likely to add a few more years to his own record. Back in 2013 he won his second Iditarod at the age of 53, becoming the oldest musher to win the Last Great Race. Unless an unforeseen event occurs, which is always a possibility, we could have a 57-year-old champ.
Mitch checked out of Koyuk at 9:46 this morning and pointed his leaders towards Elim, 48 miles down the trail. His team appears to be peaking on the final stretch to Nome, with observers in the checkpoints of Shaktoolik and Koyuk commenting on the team loping at times. Team Seavey, the elder, is ahead in both distance and rest time and is continuing to pull away from those chasing him up the Bering Sea Coast.
The closet pursuer is Nicolas Petit of Girdwood whose team of 13 also looks very impressive, but was 1.5 mph slower than Mitch across the 50 miles between Shaktoolik and Koyuk. Mitch and Nic spent 45 mins together in Koyuk but Mitch left after just 2 hours and 22 minutes of rest.
Meanwhile, Dallas has been in and out of Koyuk, spending only 8 minutes in the checkpoint as he most likely rested his team before arriving. So, in terms of actual physical location on the trail, Dallas is in second place, but Petit had already been in Koyuk for 2 hours and his team appeared to be a bit stronger.
It is hard to determine the real status of this race since the bulk of events take place out of sight in the middle of nowhere. The mushers play a cat and mouse game and have been know to sandbag the appearance of their teams entering and leaving checkpoints.
Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Wade Marrs are also in striking distance. And don’t forget the competition is intense for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places as well.
We will provide an update later today. It will be interesting to see if Mitch is able to maintain his current pace. The weather does not appear to be playing a factor thus far, so with a hard fast trail and normal visibility it is somewhat of a “level playing field” on the final stretch of the 45th running of the Iditarod.
Update the evening of Day 7:
Mitch Seavey Photo by: Jeff Schultz Photography
What has changed since this mornings’ post? Not much, as Mitch Seavey has continued to extend his lead over his competitors. Not unlike a basketball player who is “in the zone” and every 3 pointer he puts up is nothing but net, Mitch is having the time of his life with his dogs. Everything is coming together and is clicking for Team Seavey.
As I mentioned this morning Mitch would extend the record he already holds as the oldest musher to win this race. But now it looks like he may break his son Dallas’ record of the fastest time ever in the history of the Iditarod. I am sure there will be some debates about an Iditarod record being set from a Fairbanks start versus the traditional route from south central Alaska.
He is headed for White Mountain where there is a mandatory 8 hr layover before mushing the final 77 miles to the burled arch on Nome’s Front Street. He still has a strong team of 12 dogs, and posted a faster time between Koyuk and Elim than Nic Petit and Dallas did, covering the 48 miles with a speed of 8.47 mph.
Without an impending storm on the horizon it looks like the pursuers are simply waiting for the older and experienced musher to drop the ball or make a blunder.
The the competition for 2nd place is extremely intense. Dallas left Elim before Nic did, but Dallas only paused for 6 minutes while Nic gave his team an hour and 36 minute breather in the checkpoint.
Would you believe that Jessie Royer who is in the sixth position still has all 16 dogs in harness at this stage of the race!
I expect Mitch to arrive at the White Mountain checkpoint around midnight. This village of less than 200 people began as an Eskimo fish camp. While there the elder Seavey will take the required 8 hour layover before heading to Safety and then the final stretch of 22 miles to Nome.
**Mitch arrived in White Mt. at 11:36 PM and maintained an average speed of 8.54 mph over that 46 mile section of trail.** Do I hear the fat lady clearing her throat? But then again as Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.
Enjoy this? Here are a few other stories you may like:
2017 Iditarod Reroute
The Original Iditarod Trail
A Winning Strategy
Dog Races – The Fastest Dogs Don’t Always Win
Why Moving the Iditarod Trail is a Good Idea
Photo Gallery: A Yentna River Iditarod Experience