Iditarod 2013: Mitch Seavey becomes oldest winner of The Last Great Race

Image used under Creative Commons from Smooth_O

Mitch Seavey won the 2013 Iditarod, becoming the oldest champion in the race's 41-year history, crossing the finish line in Nome in a time of nine days, seven hours, 39 minutes and 56 seconds.

Mitch Seavey won the 2013 Iditarod, becoming the oldest winner in the 41-year history of The Last Great Race.

The 53-year-old Seavey not only held off Aliy Zirkle, who was just 13 minutes behind leaving White Mountain, the second-to-last checkpoint, but managed to pull away, reaching Nome nearly 24 minutes before Zirkle, who finished as the runner-up in the Iditarod for the second consecutive year. The winning margin -- 23 minutes and 39 seconds -- makes it the fourth-closest race in Iditarod history.

Seavey, who also won the Iditarod in 2004, crossed under the burled arch on Nome's Front Street at 10:39 p.m. local time Tuesday, finishing in a time of nine days, seven hours, 39 minutes and 56 seconds. Seavey's team was led by Tanner, his 6-year old, orange-brown husky.

"I gotta go congratulate my lead dog Tanner," Seavey said after his team came to a stop. "He's probably the best I've ever had.

"Tanner is happy to be a sled dog and he makes it look easy."

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Mitch Seavey's lead dog Tanner. "He's the best," said Seavey after the win. (Image via @IditarodLive on Instagram)

For the win, Seavey is awarded $50,400 and a new pick-up truck. Zirkle receives $47,100.

It's not only the second-straight second-place finish for Zirkle, but it's also the second-straight year she has finished behind a Seavey. In 2012, Dallas Seavey, Mitch's son, become the race's youngest winner at just 25 years old. Zirkle, who finished with nine of the 10 dogs husband Allen Moore used to win February's Yukon Quest race, turned in the second-fastest time ever by a woman -- her time last year still is the record.

But she just wasn't fast enough to catch Seavey on Tuesday. "I was going for it," Zirkle said, "but that slippery little sucker, I couldn't catch him."

"And then for about 30 miles of the trail we're high above treeline in these rolling mountains, and every time I would come up over the hill I would see him coming back down the other side," Zirkle said.

Zirkle, 43, said she thought she saw Seavey's yellow sled after Safety, but it was just a hallucination.

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Second-place finisher Aliy Zirkle, seen at Safety, the last checkpoint before the finish in Nome. (Image via Sebastian Schnuelle at Iditarod.com)

Jeff King, a four-time champion, finished third place, and Mitch's son, Dallas, came in fourth (complete standings). Martin Buser, the leader for much of the race after a never-before-seen, non-stop run from the start all the way to Rohn -- some 170 miles -- faded as the trail reached the Yukon River. He was in 16th place as of Wednesday morning, more than 12 hours behind the leaders.

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