Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey thought he finished third

Iditarod
Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey and his lead dogs; photo by Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images

Dallas Seavey and his team of dogs crossed the finish line of the iconic Alaskan dogsled race called the Iditarod and wondered what all the fuss was about. After all, he finished in third place, or so he thought.

“How did you do it?” Seavey was asked at the Nome, Alaska, finish line, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Iditarod
Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey gets kiss from his dog; photo by Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images

“What’d I do?” he responded.

“You just won the Iditarod.”

“What? I thought that was my dad behind me. Where’s Jeff and Aliy?”

Four-time Iditarod winner Jeff King, who had been leading the race, was blown off course by a howling wind around midnight and withdrew. Aliy Zirkle, who was in second place, was forced to hunker down at the final checkpoint for 2 1/2 hours because of the weather.

Seavey was unaware he had passed them both, thinking he was racing his father for third place. Seavey didn’t know he had won his second Iditarod until about 90 seconds after finishing around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.

So that’s what all the fuss was about.

As it turned out, the musher right behind him wasn’t his father, defending champion and two-time winner Mitch Seavey. No, it was Zirkle, who crossed the finish line only 2 minutes, 22 seconds behind Dallas, whose pace set a record for the fastest Iditarod.

courtesty of Iditarod webstie
Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey crossing the finish line; photo courtesy of Iditarod.com

Dallas completed the 1,000-mile race in 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, 19 seconds, eclipsing the old mark of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds by John Baker in 2011. It was also the second-closest winning margin behind the 1978 victory of Dick Mackey, who won by one second.

Mitch Seavey came in third, 3 1/2 hours later.

Leaving the final mandatory layover of White Mountain, 77 miles from the finish, Dallas Seavey was nearly three hours behind the leader, King, and “winning was not even in the back of my mind.”

“I wasn’t in a big hurry,” Dallas said, according to the Associated Press. “I was racing for third, and I was telling my dogs, ‘We’ve done our work here. You guys have done a good job, let’s go home. No rush, guys, let’s take it easy.'”

And so they did. Dallas even stopped to take selfies during the sunset.

Dallas won by braving the blizzard-like conditions and only staying 3 minutes in Safety, the last checkpoint. Zirkle left the checkpoint 19 minutes later, but didn’t have quite enough to catch Dallas, finishing second for the third straight year.

Here’s raw video of the finish from AP:

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