Iditarod 2016: Father and Son Battle for the Lead on the Trail

2003 Iditarod start in Anchorage Aliy Zirkle

This past weekend was an eventful one in Alaska, where the 2016 Iditarod continues to unfold. We’re now more than a week into the race, and the lead mushers have turned towards Nome. But as the final stages unfold, this year’s race is shaping up to be another epic competition between father and son.

At the moment, 29-year old Dallas Seavey leads the race as he looks to join some very elite company with 4 career wins. Dallas is out of the checkpoint at Elim, where he is being chased by Brent Sass – who is currently running in second place – and father Mithc Seavey who is in third. Those three men are the only ones who have departed from Elim right now, which means they are now less than 125 miles (201 km) from the finish line, with the winner potentially being declared tomorrow. The rest of the time five include Aliy Zirkle running in 4th and Wade Marrs in 5th.

The 2016 edition of “The Last Great Race” looks like it could be a close one. The two Seaveys and Sass left Elim just 31 minutes separating all three of them. Looking at the leaderboard, Sass is moving the fastest out on the trail, which means he could pass Dallas on the way to White Mountain, which sits just 77 miles (123 km) from the end point in Nome. What happens between now and then will be interesting to watch unfold. Particularly since all of the top mushers have now taken their 8 and 24-hour mandatory rest periods, so strategy will play a huge role in determining the winner.

Meanwhile, the weekend was eventful in other ways, with not all of them good. On Saturday, a man named Arnold Demoski caused quite a scene when he drove his snowmobile into two dogsled teams at speeds over 100 mph (160 km/h). Demoski first attacked Aliy Zirkle, injuring one of her dogs before riding off. Later, he rammed his snowmobile into Jeff King’s team as well, injuring two more dogs, and killing a third. He was later arrested, and is now being held under house arrest. His defense? He say that he got black-out drunk on Friday night, and was operating his snowmobile while under the influence. Demoski says he doesn’t even remember doing the things he is accused of.

If you know anything about these mushers, you know that they care about their dogs greatly. Getting unexpectedly attacked while out on the trail must have been a tremendous shock, and losing one of their dogs comes with great sadness. Both Zirkle and King have continued in the race however, as they look to finish the event they started.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the race as everything unfolds over the next couple of days. The winner should reach Nome sometime tomorrow or Wednesday at the very latest.

Kraig Becker