Iditarod winner sets record for oldest, fastest musher

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Iditarod mushers begin grueling race in Alaska

The musher's record-breaking victory has solidified his family's legacy in the painstaking race across the US state of Alaska. He has become the race's quickest and oldest champion at the age of 57.

Veteran musher Mitch Seavey on Tuesday won the 2017 Iditarod sled race, setting a new record for the fastest completion of the nearly 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) race.

Culture | 28.12.2016

He beat his son's previous record by nearly eight hours, completing the race in 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds.

After crossing the finish line, he hugged his wife and proceeded to offer his fatigued dogs a snack.

"They get frustrated when they go too slow, so I just let them roll, which was scary because I've never gone that far ever, but that's what they wanted to do," Seavey said.

"They trusted me to stop them when they needed to stop and feed them, and I did that, and they gave me all they could," he added.

The 57-year-old musher also broke the record for the oldest champion to win the decades-old Iditarod race, dubbed the "last great race on earth." His prize included $75,000 (70,650 euros) and a brand new truck.

Seavey has effectively sealed his family's legacy in Iditarod race, winning the last six races between him and his son Mitch Seavey.

"There's no malice, we just love running sled dogs. No question," Mitch said.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

The 'Mushing Mortician' starts the race

Scott Janssen, who is known as the "Mushing Mortician," was the first to leave from the starting point in Willow, Alaska to compete in the Iditarod dog sled race, which is a 1,600 km (1,000-mile) journey through Alaska's rough terrain. He left with 16 dogs and amid cheers from the crowd. Janssen is competing in his sixth Iditarod race.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

Mushers set off from Willow, Alaska

Lisbet Norris, who grew up in Willow, Alaska, and her 16-dog team can be seen leaving the starting chute. The race has attracted competitors from around the world, all vying to become the first to cross the finish line.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

The cold doesn't stop crowds from cheering

Crowds gathered along Chester Creek near the start of the race to cheer on their favorite musher and sled dog team. An aerial view of the Alaska terrain shows just what the mushers must brave in order to win the race.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

Cold, but not cold enough?

An Alaska freight train arrived on Saturday to deliver snow from a nearby town to help the Iditarod stage a ceremonial start. Officials of the race said that warm weather had melted the little snow still on the trail this year.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

Protection from the cold

However, the weather in Alaska is still cold. To help the dogs stay warm in the frigid temperatures, sled dogs often wear equipment such as booties for their paws and goggles for their eyes. The added protection helps the dogs compete against the elements.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

Preparation and protection is everything

In addition to keeping the dogs warm, mushers are also responsible for keeping their sled dogs safe. Lars Monsen, a musher from Norway, is seen untangling his team of 16 dogs before the start of the race. Many teams lose at least a couple of dogs to wear and injury while out on the trail.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

The Iditarod race attracts many first-timers

The grueling Iditarod race attracts many competitors, like rookie Larry Daugherty. The American musher, who comes from the US state of Utah, is among many first-time competitors willing to brave the unforgiving wilderness of Alaska.

Mushers compete in Alaska's Iditarod race

Mushers aim for Nome, Alaska

Rookie Cody Strathe was also among those mushers who set off from the small Alaska town. His team and others are expected to brave two mountain ranges, the bitter cold and fierce winds along the Bering Sea coast before finishing at Nome, Alaska. The race is expected to take at least nine days.

ls/rt (Reuters, AP)