Three generations of Seaveys are back in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and so is four-time champion Jeff King.
The Seaveys -- 74-year-old Dan of Seward, 52-year-old Mitch of Seward and 24-year-old Dallas of Willow -- will hit the trail together for the first time when the race begins March 3 in Anchorage.
It will mark the just second time in history that three generations of mushers from the same family have entered the same Iditarod. The first time was in 2001, when Dan and Mitch were joined by Mitch's son Danny, who is Dallas' older brother.
For Dan Seavey, who is Mitch's dad and Dallas' grandfather, the race will be truly a trip down memory lane. He entered the first two Iditarods, placing third in 1973 and fifth in 1974, and has long championed preservation of the historic trail from Seward to Nome.
For Mitch and Dallas, the race could be a another duel between father and son. In 2010, Dallas placed eighth and Mitch finished 10th. In 2009, Mitch was fourth with Dallas two spots back in sixth.
In the 2011 race, Dallas posted his best finish by capturing fourth place just weeks after winning the Yukon Quest. But his dad was pulled out of the race by race officials after he nearly severed a finger while slicing open a bale of straw for his dogs.
Mitch Seavey, who won in 2004, is one of six past champs in a field of 70 that plan to compete in the 2012 Iditarod.
Entries closed Wednesday at midnight, and as of Thursday, 66 mushers had completed their entries and four others had either filed incomplete entries or mailed in entries. Additional mushers could join the field if their entries are postmarked by Nov. 30.
Headlining the group of past champs is Kotzebue's John Baker, who blazed 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome in record time last March to become the first Inupiat Eskimo Iditarod champion in history and the first Native Alaskan champ since Jerry Riley in 1976.
King is another former champ who is entered. A four-time winner, he announced his retirement after the 2010 race, but the retirement turned out to be a one-year deal.
King, who last won in 2005 at age 50, hinted at a possible return -- with conditions -- last March while he was in Norway.
"I'm not sure I will ever try to win it again," he told the Daily News in a phone interview while overseas.
Other former champs entered include Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, whose record string of four straight victories ended last year, and Martin Buser of Big Lake, another four-time winner. Rick Swenson of Two Rivers, the Iditarod's only five-time champion, is one of the mushers with an incomplete entry.
In all, seven of the top 10 finishers and 23 of the top 30 from last year plan to return.
"What that tells us is that the 2012 race promises to be ultra-competitive again -- pretty hard to crack that top 30 for a newcomer," said race director Stan Hooley.
Baker, who ran his first Iditarod in 1996 and has a dozen top-ten finishes, set a new standard last March by winning in eight days, 18 hours and 46 minutes -- three hours faster than the previous record, set by Buser in 2002.
Buser's son Rohn, 22, is the youngest musher entered and Dan Seavey is the oldest. The average age, Hooley said, is 42.
Kelley Griffin, Wasilla;
Martin Buser, Big Lake;
Anjanette Steer, Sheep Mountain;
Scott Janssen, Anchorage;
Aaron Burmeister, Nome;
Nicolas Petit, Girdwood;
Trent Herbst, Anchorage;
Travis Cooper, Big Lake;
Bruce Linton, Kasilof;
Jodi Bailey, Chatanika;
Mike Santos, Cantwell;
Lance Mackey, Fairbanks;
Hugh Neff, Tok;
Dallas Seavey, Willow;
Mitch Seavey, Seward;
Pete Kaiser, Bethel;
DeeDee Jonrowe, Willow;
Anna Berington, Kasilof;
Sigrid Ekran, Sparbu, Norway;
Ramey Smyth, Willow;
Michael Suprenant, Chugiak;
Tom Thurston, Oak Creek, Colo.;
Pat Moon, Chicago;
Jake Berkowitz, Big Lake;
Kristy Berington, Kasilof;
Wattie McDonald, Stonehaven, Scotland;
Karin Hendrickson, Willow;
Jaimee Kinzer, Willow;
Paul Gebhardt, Kasilof;
Cim Smyth, Big Lake;
Michelle Phillips, Tagish, Yukon Territory;
Gerry Willomitzer, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory;
Kelly Maixner, Big Lake;
Colleen Robertia, Kasilof;
Ken Anderson, Fairbanks;
William Pinkham, Glenwood Springs, Colo.;
Jan Steves, Edmonds, Wash.;
Jeff King, Denali;
Ray Redington Jr., Wasilla;
Kevin Neher, Wasilla;
John Baker, Kotzebue;
Aliy Zirkle, Two Rivers;
Justin Savidis, Willow;
Jim Lanier, Chugiak;
Ryne Olson, Two Rivers;
Joe Gutowski, Goodrich, Mich.;
Matt Failor, Mansfield, Ohio;
Karen Ramstead, Perryvale, Alberta;
Tamara Rose, Fairbanks;
Lachlan Clarke, Buena Vista, Colo.;
Zoya DeNure, Paxson;
Silvia FurtwÃ¤ngler, Rauland, Norway;
Hank DeBruin, Haliburton, Ontario;
Matt Giblin, Big Lake;
Sonny Lindner, Two Rivers;
Rohn Buser, Big Lake;
Kirk Barnum, Grangeville, Idaho;
Curt Perano, Queenstown, New Zealand;
Bob Chlupach, Willow;
Mike Williams, Akiak;
Ryan Redington, Wasilla;
Braxton Peterson, Fairbanks;
Brent Sass, Eureka;
Dan Seavey, Seward;
Robert Nelson, Kotzebue;
Art Church Jr., Willow.Iditarod homepage
By DAN JOLING
Anchorage Daily News