Kyle Hopkins in Ruby --
He’s near the front of the Iditarod, but Dallas Seavey says he isn’t even ready to race yet. The plan for now: Keep anyone who gets in front of him close enough to catch.
Then unleash the hounds.
“I’m not ready to start racing. I’m still building a monster,” Seavey said today soon after arriving in Cripple. “I’ll let it out of the cage about, hmm, halfway down the Yukon.
At the time, Seavey was trailing only his father, Mitch, who arrived here an hour and 42 minutes before him.
“Obviously there’s a long ways to go. But right now it looks like he and I are kind of the two that have control of this thing,” Dallas Seavey said.
We caught up with the 25-year-old former Yukon Quest winner in the muggy Cripple cookhouse. Here’s the younger Seavey in his own words on racing against his father, his championship blueprint and the rest of the pack:
You’re a pretty confident dude. Do you expect to win?
I don’t know if I could say that, but I’m doing what it would take to win. That’s what we’re out here to do. Whether it works or not, I know what I’ve got to do. I know my shot at winning.
My dad has a great team. He’s obviously an excellent dog driver, so if I get there ahead of him, I’ll be driving a new truck. If I’m going to get second to anybody, it might as well be him, I guess. But that’s not at all a concession.
… We got the faster team (compared to Mitch) at the moment. Right now he’s got a bit of a lead. He might have a little bit more of an ability to do the long hauls. Well see.
Going back to let’s say, going to McGrath and Takotna. We had the fastest team by quite a bit there. Coming over here we made up quite a bit of time. We stopped for a little of rest on the way over here.
So if I can make up time and give it back resting, I can keep building that speed. ... As long as he’s within a couple hours and we’ve got speed, I’m feeling pretty comfortable.
Your grandfather, Dan Seavey, said people ought to bet on Mitch Seavey in this Iditarod and that he didn't know your team quite as well …
That’s why we come and race instead of just talk about it.
How well do you know Mitch’s team? You guys train different kennels.
We have entirely different kennels. I live in Willow. He lives in Sterling. We talk fairly regularly I suppose. Share some information. Most information. I’m sure we both hold back just a little bit. We’ve got to have some edge out here.
What do you have to do next to stay at the front?
We keep the speed but we can’t let them get out of sight. We’ve got to stay within a certain distance. There’s a certain amount of time and distance that I feel comfortable with. We’ve got to keep them in reach and keep building speed. Or at least just maintain it.
I’m not ready to sacrifice speed. I could catch them by Ruby if I wanted to, but that would cost me. I’m not willing to do that. That’s why I didn’t come over here in a straight shot. I could, but that’s not going to help me with my speed.
I’m not ready to start racing. I’m still building a monster. I’ll let it out of the cage about, hmm, halfway down the Yukon.
On the frontrunners:
I saw most the rest of them on the way here. Either when they caught up to me when I camped or when passing them.
If Jeff can turn things around … His team looks pretty good. But he’s a ways back there. He really sloughed off going to Takotna. We’ll see if he can bring it back. Aliy’s going to be tough, I’m sure.
How’s it feel to be at the front of the Iditarod with your dad parked next to you?
Being in the front of the Iditarod is certainly fun. I can tell you that much. As far as my dad, I’ve actually gotten to see him a little bit on this trip and that’s been fun.