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Seavey Lives His Dream With Win

March 18, 2004|From Associated Press

NOME, Alaska — Mitch Seavey won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in nine days, 12 hours, 20 minutes and 22 seconds on Tuesday night, his 11th run on the 1,100-mile route from Anchorage to Nome.

Seavey, 43, crossed the finish line just before 10:30 p.m. His previous best finish was fourth in 1998.

"I'm sort of in disbelief," Seavey said. "I think everybody's happy to have an Alaskan boy win the Iditarod."

Hundreds of people, clapping and cheering, were gathered on Front Street in Nome to welcome Seavey into the winner's chute.

Three-time winner Jeff King of Denali Park finished second at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, having spent nine days, 14:40:59 on the trail. It was King's 15th Iditarod, and he has finished in the top 10 every year since 1992.

Norwegian Kjetil Backen was third, arriving at 1:11 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Ramey Smyth of Big Lake at 2:23 a.m., Ed Iten of Kotzebue at 2:25 a.m., Charlie Boulding of Manley at 3:04 a.m. and five-time winner Rick Swenson of Two Rivers at 4:59 a.m.

"This dog team is awesome," Seavey said. "I knew if I didn't make any big mistakes -- this dog team is a monster. I knew they could do it."

Seavey said he had imagined winning the race since he was a boy, racing around his home with a three-dog team.

"Every time I'd be running dogs by our house, I'd be imagining myself in the finish chute in Nome winning the Iditarod," he said in an interview in 2001.

The Iditarod has prize money of more than $700,000. The first-place prize is $69,000 and a new Dodge pickup truck worth $41,410. About one-third of this year's record field was made up of rookies.

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