Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Have the Seaveys created an Iditarod dynasty?
The term dynasty is bestowed too easily in the world of sports. To claim a dynasty, a team or an individual has to prove their dominance over an extended period of time. Which is why I think it’s time to consider the word dynasty when describing the Seaveys and how they continue to dominate the Last Great Race.
If there is a dynasty in the sports world today, they are the closest to meeting the definition. And in a sport with so many uncontrollable variables — such as weather, trail conditions, and health issues for athlete and dog on the field of play — the Seaveys’ ability to rise to the top year in and year out is nothing short of miraculous.
For the past six years, a Seavey has been first to reach the burled arch in Nome. Four times it has been 30-year-old Dallas Seavey, the youngest musher to win the race. Twice during that span it has been his father Mitch Seavey, who, at 57, is the oldest champion. This year he added victory number three to his record book that began with his first win in 2004.
There are children in Alaska grade schools who have never seen anyone other than a Seavey win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
We’ve seen streaks like this before.
Rick Swenson, who dominated the race from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s remains the only musher to claim five Iditarod titles.
But there’s a whole gang line of mushers who’ve been unable to break the ice ceiling of four victories. They are all legends, including Susan Butcher, Lance Mackey, Martin Buser, Jeff King and Doug Swingley. At the time each of these champions was on their winning streak, the word dynasty was whispered.
But consider, in the last six Iditarods, Dallas Seavey or Mitch Seavey have won or placed second nine times.
To be fair, it is not quite like Dallas Seavey went into the family business as much as he created his own franchise. Father and son have their own dogs and their own ways of training, and when they race, it’s every man for himself. But it’s now clear that the spirit of competition is not just bred into the bloodline of the dogs.
Conventional wisdom has held that Dallas Seavey has the best chance to surpass Swenson’s record and establish a string of victories that might never be eclipsed. Now it appears the only thing standing in his way is his father.
Imagine how fun that is for family patriarch Dan Seavey, who helped carve the first Iditarod trail in 1973 that his son and grandson now follow.
The Seaveys dominance of the race is anything but boring. The father and son rivalry is unlike anything the Iditarod has seen before, and the attention it’s capturing is good for the race.
Because dynasties don’t last forever, and whether we’re seeing the end of this one, or just the beginning, we should all simply enjoy the ride.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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