'Ride of a lifetime': Mitch Seavey becomes oldest Iditarod champ at 57

The Seward, Alaska, musher brought his dogs off the frozen Bering Sea and onto Front Street in the Gold Rush town of Nome Tuesday afternoon, after crossing about 1,600 kilometres of Alaska wilderness.

Seavey crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska on Tuesday afternoon, claiming his 3rd Iditarod crown

Two-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey takes off two positions ahead of his son, reigning champion Dallas Seavey, at the start of the Iditarod in Fairbanks, Alaska, last week. (Ellamarie Quimby/The Associated Press)

Mitch Seavey won his third Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday, becoming the oldest champion at age 57 and helping cement his family's position as mushing royalty. 

The Seward, Alaska, musher brought his dogs off the frozen Bering Sea and onto Front Street in the Gold Rush town of Nome after crossing about 1,600 kilometres of Alaska wilderness. 

He outran his son, defending champion Dallas Seavey, and lapped the oldest musher record that he set at age 53 in 2013. He previously won the race in 2013 and 2004. 

"This is kind of a ride of a lifetime," Mitch Seavey told a camera crew for the Iditarod website as he was packing his sled to leave the last checkpoint, White Mountain. 

"I hope there's more, but it's fantastic to see these guys perform," he said of his dog team.

The Seaveys have now won the last six races. Dallas Seavey won four of those races, and his father finished second the last two years. The two are close but competitive.

Dallas Seavey poses with his lead dogs Reef, left, and Tide after finishing the 2016 Iditarod in Nome. Seavey has won four out the last five Iditarods. (Mark Thiessen/The Associated Press)

A family tradition

The family's ties to the race go back to the first Iditarod, held in 1973, when Mitch Seavey's dad, Dan, mushed in the event. 

Mitch Seavey admitted that while winning is nice, it's just part of the journey. 

"This is the joy of the dog team, the accomplishments of the kennel and family," he said. "The winning is kind of checking the box, but getting it done is really where the value is." 

The younger Seavey, who is 30, had wins in 2012 and from 2014 to 2016. 

The race started March 6 in Fairbanks, with 71 teams trying to navigate nearly a thousand miles of grueling Alaska wilderness to the finish line in the old Gold Rush town of Nome. Four mushers have scratched. 

Four dogs associated with the race have died this year, including a 4-year-old male named Flash who collapsed on the trail early Tuesday when his musher, Katherine Keith, was about 16 kilometres outside the checkpoint in Koyuk.

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