The third time's the charm -- right?
Junior Iditarod champion Tyrell Seavey of Seward thinks so. After finishing runner-up to Ryan Redington in the 152-mile race in 1999 and last year, Seavey pulled out a late-rally victory over Cali King of Denali Park to capture his first Junior Iditarod title Sunday by an extremely thin margin of 34 seconds.
"I was second for the last two years and I guess I just got tired of it," Seavey said in a phone interview. "Of course, Cali made me work for it. We were only 34 seconds apart, the closest finish in history."
The 16-year-old Seavey and his crew of nine dogs crossed the finish line of the two-day race at 10:43 a.m. for a total time of 14 hours, 13 minutes and 18 seconds and took home a $3,000 scholarship, a sled and two round-trip tickets to Nome for the finish of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for his troubles.
"I have the $3,000 from this year and two $1,500 ones from before," Seavey said. "I can use them toward the college of my choice and it is sure adding up."
Both Seavey and King moved through the ranks as Seavey fought from his place at 11th on Saturday and King moved up from fifth. It didn't take long for King to creep into fourth while Seavey pushed his team to fifth as they pulled into the Burma Road checkpoint just 19 miles into the race.
"We are really proud of how well Cali ran," King's father, Jeff, said in a phone interview. "She did real well and we are just coming off of all that excitement and preparing for the Iditarod."
King surged ahead to Flat Horn Lake, where she was the first musher arrive but 16-year-old Hannah Moderow of Anchorage, who finished third, jumped into the lead at Trail Lake.
Seavey and King retook the lead and held close until the final leg of the race where Seavey managed a small lead that he held on to.
"A close race like that is really hard," Seavey said. "You're out there running with the dogs and it is just really tough. I have known Jeff but I never met his daughter until this race. I got to see plenty of her though, we ran part of the way our and part way back together."
King, who is also 16, and her 10-dog team finished their first-ever Junior Iditarod in 14:13:52 and was awarded a $1,500 scholarship.
Mushing seems to be in this year's first and second place finishers' blood -- Seavey hails from the only family that has ever produced three generations to run in the 1,100-mile Iditarod while King is the daughter of standout musher Jeff King.
Seavey's older brother Danny will join their father, Mitch, and grandfather, Dan, in traversing the strenuous trail from Anchorage to Nome, which begins Saturday. King's father, a three-time Iditarod champion, is also among the 79 mushers who have entered.
"My plan is to run the Iditarod when I turn 18, the earliest I can enter," Seavey said. "I will be running a young team of dogs, just like my brother is doing this year."
Will Seavey have the challenge of fighting off Cali King in the Iditarod too?
"Cali made it clear that she had a blast in the Junior Iditarod," Jeff King said. "She also made it clear that she is not ready to announce her future just yet."
1.Tyrell Seavey, 14 hours, 13 minutes and 18 seconds; 2. Cali King, 14:13:52; 3. Hannah Moderow, 14:59:47; 4. Max Kornmuller, 16:13:59; 5. Ellie Claus, 16:27:23; 6. Adam Beebe, 17:28:21; 7. Janet Willis, 18:01:36; 8. Mari Troshynski, 18:18:33; 9. Elisabeth Habermann, 18:30:18; 10. Joshua Beebe, 18:43:14; 11. Ami Beebe, 18:49:50.; 12. Jennifer Ramsey, 19:55.57; 13. Jessica Butler, 20:14.12.
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