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Lisa M.
Republican AK

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  • Congratulating Mitch Seavey

    by Senator Lisa Murkowski

    Posted on 2013-03-18

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    MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the winner of the 41st Iditarod race. Mitch Seavey of Seward finished the 998-mile dog sled race in a time of 9 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 56 seconds. This is Mitch's second title and I am happy to congratulate him on this significant accomplishment.

    Sixty-six teams left this year from Willow, heading out into the dark, cold, and exceptionally rugged terrain of Alaska. This race is not for the weak. Temperatures can plummet, footing is not always solid, and mushers have to deal with the isolation of the Alaskan wilderness, leading an equally brave and athletic team of canine athletes.

    Iditarod mushers are not the only people to have witnessed the great ability of sled dogs. American soldiers overseas are now benefiting from the training these canines endure. The U.S. Marine Corps recently decided to study the training regimen of sled dogs that are able to consistently run 1,000-mile races through hazardous conditions. What they observed is what we in the Iditarod community have become accustomed to in sled dog racing--train to the level in which you need to perform. For Iditarod dogs this means training in weather conditions they will encounter during an Alaskan winter and eating up to 12,000 calories a day. Exercise and nutrition techniques were transferred from the Iditarod trail across the world to the deserts of Afghanistan. Bomb-sniffing dogs working in conditions just as extreme, sometimes in heat well in excess of 100 degrees, are now saving lives and limbs every day thanks to the science and innovative techniques developed in our great race. A group of those canines, led by Tanner, a 6-year-old husky, trained their way into peak physical condition and onto the winning podium in Nome.

    The Iditarod race exemplifies the greatest assets of my home State: vast nature and beauty, the greatest will and determination in the country, and most of all a sense of community. Those qualities are exemplified in this year's winner, Mitch Seavey.

    This title makes Mitch the oldest Iditarod winner ever. It is only fitting that Mitch crossed the burled arch on Front Street in Nome a champion, a year after his son Dallas claimed the title and became the youngest winner in Iditarod history. Back-to-back Seavey family championships lead me to believe that there must be some characteristics of this family that give them an advantage in the world's toughest race.

    Mitch Seavey's inspiring run this year was a testament to his athleticism, tenacity, and character. Mitch recaptured his title in dramatic fashion. His lead coming out of White Mountain, starting a sprint to Nome, was only 13 minutes. He thought he could see the dim light of his competitor's headlamp coming up behind his team and he reached another gear. Late Tuesday night Mitch crossed the finish line, claiming his second title, the first since his 2004 championship run. This was one of the closest Iditarod finishes ever. Mitch even joked coming out of White Mountain that he was going to grab his sneakers for the finish. In the heat of competition Mitch kept his sense of humor and [[Page S1889]] now he has kept the Iditarod championship in the family for another year.

    Mitch Seavey may have claimed the Iditarod title in Nome, but getting to that point takes preparation and training that begins months if not years in advance. I would like to congratulate Mitch for all of his hard work and for claiming his second Iditarod title.

    I would also like to thank the Iditarod trail team, the many volunteers who came from around the country, the veterinarians, the Iditarod Air Force, and everyone else who has worked to ensure the safety and maintenance of the Iditarod trail and the safety of the dedicated athletes and canines that welcome the challenge. Their efforts are often underrated, but their commitment is resolute. My prayers go out to the families of Carolyn and Rosemarie Sorvoja, and pilot Ted Smith, who lost their lives in a tragic plane crash as they made their way to the eighth check point of Takotna. They had traveled hundreds of miles from the Anchorage area, in hopes of volunteering on the trail. Every volunteer knows the risks associated with their efforts to ensure the safety of others and the success of the Iditarod, but I am surprised each year at how many line up to serve in the face of rugged and extreme Alaskan conditions. This is now a time to remember and honor their efforts, and congratulate Mitch Seavey.

    I am proud to congratulate the Seavey team on this amazing accomplishment and historic milestone. I send my best wishes to Mitch and the whole Seavey family as they celebrate this well-deserved victory in Alaska's great race.


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