Peninsula's Iditarod champ gets own day

Posted: Monday, April 26, 2004

It's official. April 24 is now "Mitch Seavey Day" on the Kenai Peninsula.

Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion, was honored Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center, with Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley declaring "Mitch Seavey Day" through official proclamation.

Seavey, who divides his time between Sterling and Seward, was the first to cross under the burled arch in Nome on March 16, after nine days, 12 hours, 20 minutes and 22 seconds on the trail, thus fulfilling a goal and a dream he's had since he first started sled dog racing in 1964.

The proclamation took place at an event sponsored jointly by the Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce.

Nearly 100 spectators attended, including numerous peninsula mushers.

The event featured recorded news footage of Seavey's final days on the trail, leading up to his win. Performer Hobo Jim serenaded Seavey with a song titled "I did, I did, I did the Iditarod trail."

Mayor Bagley made a brief speech stating the purpose of the event was "To acknowledge the first Iditarod Champion from the Kenai Peninsula in 20 years." He then presented Seavey with the official proclamation.

The only other peninsula musher to ever win the Iditarod -- Dean Osmar, who won the race in 1984 -- also was called up to the podium where he congratulated Seavey.

Seavey made a brief speech and answered a wide range of questions from the crowd. Many people asked Seavey what it was like to win and how it felt to beat Denali Park musher Jeff King and Norwegian Kjetil Backen -- the two men who led much of the race.

Seavey handled the question much like he's been handling his victory in the race -- modestly.

"The Iditarod is us competing against the trail, not each other. The winner is just whoever did best against the trail," he said.

Seavey also took the time to bring in and introduce his lead dog "Tread" to the crowd and said the dogs of his team are true champions.

The comment spurred a bit of friendly banter between mushers.

Osmar asked "How much is the stud fee for that dog?"

To which Seavey replied "For you, $100," and then a moment later added wryly, "Of course, he is neutered though."

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