It's been twenty years since a Peninsula musher has made it first through the burled arches in Nome to win the "Last Great Race." The last Peninsula musher to win the famous Iditarod 1049 mile trek to Nome was Dean Osmar, of Clam Gulch. Dean, his son Tim, and his granddaughter Nicole, the 2004 Jr. Iditarod champion, were all on hand last week along with a host of other Peninsula mushers and supporters to celebrate the officially proclaimed Mitch Seavey Day, in honor of the 2004 Iditarod Championship run of Sterling musher Mitch Seavey. Seavey's lead dog Tread also made an appearance.
The eight-year-old Tread won the esteemed Golden Harness for being the best lead dog in this year's race. Dean Osmar asked Seavey what he was going to charge for stud fee to Tread, and Mitch replied, "Oh for you Dean only $100." Seavey then paused and added, "But Tread's been neutered." Whether this will be Tread's last trip to Nome or not is yet uncertain, "I've never taken a 9-year-old lead dog to Nome before, but we'll start training again in the fall and see how he does," said Seavey. Mitch modestly admitted that the real athletes of the Iditarod were the dogs, "My dogs are the real champions," he said. When asked about the competition among the other mushers, Seavey stated, "The Iditarod is us competing against the trail, not each other. The winner is just whoever does the best against the trail."
The official day, sponsored by the Soldotna and Kenai Chambers of Commerce was marked by a review of the Channel 2 news coverage of the finish of the Last Great Race, and the presentation of a wooden etched official proclamation by Borough Mayor Dale Bagley making April 24th 2004 Mitch Seavey Day throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Hobo Jim, just back from Afghanistan, stopped by with his guitar to serenade the Champion with his official Iditarod song. After speaking to the crowd briefly about the experience and answering questions, Seavey spent nearly an hour signing autographs and T-shirts for the many supporters that turned out to celebrate his day. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales were donated by the Seavey's to the Soldotna scholarship fund.
Hobo Jim stops by to sing the Iditarod theme song to Mitch Seavey 2004 Iditarod Champion from Sterling.
When Seavey was asked at what point he first knew he was actually going to win the race he replied, "Well coming out of White Mountain part of my brain acknowledged that my team was running strong and that we had enough lead to win, but then another part of brain would say, but this is the Iditarod, the one race I've dreamed about winning since I was 11 years old, and it just couldn't sink in."
Mitch's father Dan, who ran in the first Iditarod, was also present with Mitch's wife Janine, and son Dallas who will turn 18 next year the day before the start of the 2005 Iditarod, "So I should be the youngest person to ever race it, and then I may start looking at the '08 Olympics in wrestling," said Dallas, who recently won a national wrestling championship for Skyview High School. Asked if he was planning on being the next Seavey to win the Iditarod he replied that his Dad's win was totally a family effort and whether he or one of his brothers won the Iditarod next, it would still be a family effort.
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