Photos: Seavey holds off Zirkle to claim his second Iditarod

Mitch Seavey mushing down Front Street in Nome to win the 2013 Iditarod. March 12, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Mitch Seavey, Iditarod 2013 champion. March 13, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Mitch Seavey and his wife Jen on Front Street in Nome. March 12, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Aliy Zirkle mushing down Front Street in Nome, where she placed second in the 2013 Iditarod. March 12, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Aliy Zirkle greeting fans on Front Street in Nome. March 12, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

It's been a long time since the Iditarod was decided in the final hours of the race. But in 2013, the leaders were separated by only 13 minutes on the final day, and despite a late push from second-place finisher Aliy Zirkle, musher Mitch Seavey of Sterling went on to claim his second victory in the Last Great Race, and his first since 2004. His win came just one year after his son, Dallas Seavey, won the title himself and became the youngest race winner in history. 

It was Zirkle's second year in a row as runner up, continuing a streak of more than 20 years without a woman Iditarod champion.

The tight finish capped off a particularly wild race full of ups and downs, momentum shifts and wacky weather. Martin Buser, the first musher out of the gate in Willow on March 3, adopted an unorthodox strategy that many thought just might pay off, setting a blistering pace and taking few early rest stops. And for a while, it worked. Buser held the top spot for much of the first half of the race. Then, as happens so often, Buser's Iditarod dreams were dashed as his team faltered on the mighty Yukon River and other mushers passed him by.

Four-time champs made waves in 2013 -- Buser first with his eye-catching speed; then Lance Mackey, who was first to the halfway point of the race. Finally, Jeff King made a late push in Koyuk, passing up eventual champ Mitch Seavey, who could only watch as King came and went through the checkpoint.

But Seavey would get the last laugh, as he and Zirkle would pass King a short time later, turning the 2013 Iditarod into a two-musher race.

Only one, though, could go on to win, leaving Zirkle with her second runner-up title in two years and a unique statistic -- both of her losses came to members of the Seavey family.

Mitch himself now holds a part of a unique record -- he and son Dallas have become the oldest and the youngest mushers to claim the title in the Last Great Race.