Iditarod -- Race Across Alaska
Three Generations Hit the Trail
By Suzanne Freeman
February 2001

Mitch Seavey, left, talks about the Iditarod as his father, Dan, center, and son, Danny, separate dog harnesses on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2001. (Photo: Michael Crouser)

In 1973, when the first Iditarod dog-sled racers left the starting line in Anchorage, Alaska, Dan Seavey competed with a team of 16 dogs on a homemade sled. His 17-year-old son, Mitch, was his handler, meeting him at checkpoints along the more than 1,000-mile route with dog food, supplies, and moral support.

Now Mitch is a father of four and a professional racer. He took the skills he learned from his father, including making top-notch racing sleds, and turned it into a family business. This year, Mitch's oldest son, Danny, is 18 and eligible to run the Iditarod for the first time. Grandpa Dan, as the elder Seavey is called, decided to join in and make Iditarod 2001 a three-generation run.

"Danny's running a puppy team, so he's not really competing against his father," mother Jeanine Seavey said recently. "Mitch always runs to win. His goal is to be the first across the line in Nome." Danny's puppy team run is to train both himself and the younger dogs to make long hauls through the Alaskan wilderness.

Jeanine expects her husband to complete the race in 9 to 11 days, depending on the weather. Danny is expected to finish in 15 to 17 days. Grandpa Dan should cross the line sometime in between his son and grandson.

Another grandson will also be on the trail, but not as a racer. Tyrell Seavey, 16, will cross the finish line several times—on his snowmobile. Tyrell will race in the Junior Iditarod, which begins February 24, before preparing for his job as handler for the racing Seaveys.

When the Iditarod begins on March 3, Tyrell will follow approximately 79 dog sled teams on his snowmobile all the way to Nome. Tyrell will meet his family members at checkpoints with dog food and supplies. He will camp out along the trail for more than two weeks, and call in daily reports on the race's progress exclusively to Scholastic News Zone. Tyrell will also keep a daily diary of his activities for publication on Scholastic News Zone after the race.