Monday, March 14, 2011

The 2011 Iditarod's unseen musher

The Iditarod is often about much more than the hopes and dreams of the mushers and their dogs. Sometimes there's a real, heartrending story. Such as this one about the Iditarod's unseen musher.
Hagen, the Seavey family's veteran dog handler, died in his sleep two weeks before the start of the 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an arduous 900-mile journey across the wilds of the 49th state. His death came as a shock to everyone in the Seavey family. They had all expected Hagen to be joining their post-Iditarod celebration in Nome.

For all of the hard work Hagen did around the Seavey kennel in Sterling, one of his rewards each year was a vacation to Nome to watch the Iditarod mushers cross the finish line. It was a trip Hagen had planned to make again this year, Seavey said.
"He was one of the unsung heroes of the Iditarod," Seavey said, noting all of the behind-the-scenes work it takes on the part of dog handlers and kennel managers to help mushers do what they do. Seavey worried not only about his finger in Ophir, but about what would become of Hagen's ashes if the musher dropped out of the race.

Fortunately, about an hour after Seavey cut himself, a musher arrived who Seavey knew could take over the mission to get Hagen's ashes safely to Nome -- Seavey's son, Dallas. Mitch carefully turned over to Dallas the responsibility of getting Hagen's remains up the trail.

"He's now continuing his journey with Dallas," Seavey said.

A fifth-year Idiatrod musher, Dallas is the winner of this year's 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada to Fairbanks. The 24-year-old dog driver was flirting with a top-10 Iditarod finish on Sunday as he steadily moved Hagen's ashes ever closer to Nome.

"The bugger's going to get there again,” the elder Seavey said. “We're gonna miss him."

Go read the rest of the story. Dallas Seavey is running 4th as he approches the next to last checkpoint (White House) with an 8 hour mandatory layover and about 77 miles to go.


Rev. Paul said...

There are a number of stories in this year's race worthy of an old-fashioned tear jerker, this one not the least of them.

Janet Beckwith Macy said...

Great story. I was born in Wellsboro PA but now live in central Kansas. For some reason I've developed a great interest in the Iditarod and follow it closely every year. Some how I missed this story. I've posted it on FB so my friends can read this. It's so touching. Thanks for the post. You can check out my blog if you wish.

Jan Macy said...

Great post!! Loved it. I was born in Wellsboro PA, but live in central Kansas. A strange place for an Iditarod enthusiast.

I miss PA. My family lives in Meadville, Pittsburg, and Jamestown NY. Maybe it's the snow that I grew up in off the shores of Lake Erie and Ontario in the Jamestown area that make me look forward to this race.