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Seavey takes Iditarod; Father Mitch comes in 2nd.

Byline: Mark Thiessen

NOME, Alaska -- If ever there was uncertainty about the outcome of the world's most famous sled dog race, it was this year.

Warm weather and a lack of snow in much of Alaska forced organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to forge an untested route, utilizing the state's extensive system of frozen rivers.

Many wondered: Would the new trail make the race faster or easier? Would it benefit mushers more accustomed to racing on ice? Or would warm temperatures create new hazards on the rivers?

Dallas Seavey proved the short answer to all of those questions was no on Wednesday when he won the race for the third time in four years.

The Alaska musher crossed the finish line in the Bering Sea coastal town of Nome at 4:13 a.m., completing the route in 8 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes, 6 seconds. That's about five hours longer than the record he set in winning the 2014 race.

''Obviously going into this race, the big hubbub was all about the new trail, right?'' Seavey told a packed convention hall. Concerns were about the ''warm, warm, warm winter'' and conditions on the Yukon River.

In fact, a snowmobile sank on thin ice on part of the route mushers were about to take.

But then winter came back to Alaska, and the trails became much more like one would expect for the Iditarod.

''We saw a lot of 40-, 50-below zero, snow,'' said Seavey, of Willow. ''This was a very tough race. It was not the easy run that a lot of people had anticipated for the Yukon River.''

Seavey's father, Mitch, finished in second place, followed by Aaron Burmeister. Behind them en route to Nome were Jessie Royer and Aliy Zirkle.

Dallas Seavey said that after the route change, the race came down to different mushing styles.

''I think going into this race, we all knew the winner would be who could maximize this new trail and take advantage of that,'' he said.

He used two different styles: First, he was more aggressive than usual early on, running near the front of the pack. Then, he let loose what he calls the ''monster,'' a team that can finish strong, building speed at the end.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Thiessen, Mark
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Mar 19, 2015
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