Iditarod -- Race Across Alaska
2004 Winner: Seavey Crowned Iditarod Champ
By Karen Fanning

Mitch Seavey drives his team into the Unalakleet, Alaska checkpoint on Sunday. (Photo: © Al Grillo/AP Wide World)
Mitch Seavey drives his team into the Unalakleet, Alaska checkpoint on Sunday. (Photo: © Al Grillo/AP Wide World)
Thursday, March 18—As he stood amid a cheering crowd in Nome, Alaska, Monday night, Mitch Seavey could hardly believe what he had just accomplished—he was the Iditarod champ. "I'm sort of in disbelief," said the 44-year-old veteran musher, or sled dog racer. "We actually won it. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was catching me."

But no one did. Finishing more than two hours ahead of runner-up Jeff King, Seavey conquered the world's greatest dog sled race in 9 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes, and 22 seconds. Not bad for a guy who came up empty-handed in his 10 previous runs of the 1,150-mile race. Last year, the Seward, Alaska, native finished a disappointing 12th.

This year, the father of four boys received extra help from his son Dallas, 17, who served as his coach.

"His input has been incredibly important," said Mitch's wife, Janine. "It shows that if you really apply yourself and work hard, being at the top comes to you."

Seavey has dreamed of claiming the Iditarod title since he began mushing at age four. When he was 12, he cheered on his dad, Dan, who finished third in the first-ever Iditarod, in 1973. Since then, Seavey has had one goal—to win it all himself. Now, he has, thanks to the support of his family and the energy of his dogs.

"This dog team was a monster," he said. "It just brings tears to your eyes to see them get stronger and stronger."

As he reflected on his win, Seavey celebrated the fact that the Iditarod trophy is now back in the hands of a local musher, after last year's victory by Norway's Robert Sorlie.

"Everybody's happy to have an Alaska boy winning the Iditarod," he said.