ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Racer Dallas Seavey plans to return to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2021, while his father, Mitch Seavey, expects to step away from the famed Alaska race that he has run 27 times.
The elder Seavey announced the dual decision on social media Saturday, KTVA-TV reported.
“Dallas intended to run the Iditarod with or without my decision,” Seavey said in an interview.
Mitch Seavey knew his son planned to make an Iditarod return before this year’s race began, he said.
“So I got to thinking in my devious little mind, this might be a chance for me to step aside at least for a year or so, that’s where we’re at,” Mitch Seavey said.
Dallas Seavey will benefit from his father’s best animals, who will be available to join what is expected to be a high-powered group of sled dogs.
“Dallas would have a wonderful dog team anyway but certainly, it’s to be expected that this will make him better,” Mitch Seavey said.
Dallas Seavey’s return comes after a three-year hiatus from the Iditarod, which made him one of the most recognizable names in the sport. He won four Iditarod titles in five years, including 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Following the 2017 race, several of his dogs tested positive for the pain reliever tramadol. He denied doping charges and was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing by the Iditarod Trail Committee.
“I had a bit of bad taste in my mouth from the whole Iditarod thing, and I’m encouraged now because we have seen the Iditarod go through some large changes and I think they’re in a better position,” Dallas Seavey said.
Mitch Seavey, who will turn 61 this summer, posted 23 top 20 finishes with wins in 2004, 2013 and 2017. He had three runner-up finishes including 2015 and 2016, when the only racer to reach Nome before him was his son.
“I guess I’m not as young as I used to be, you can say it that way and I feel like I’d like to take a break,” Seavey said, who added he will evaluate one year at a time.