As the leaders approached the finish in Nome, the 2014 Iditarod seemed like a done deal for most fans following the Last Great Race.
When bedtime rolled around on March 10, 2014, Jeff King was well on his way to Nome, having left White Mountain that afternoon with an hour lead over his nearest competitor, then-two-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle. King's win seemed certain; most fans thought their only decision was whether to get out of bed and watch King claim a record-tying fifth victory on live television. Rarely have the Iditarod leaderboards been overhauled so late in the 1,000-mile ultramarathon.
But a late check of the GPS position indicators hinted at the drama beginning to unfold. King's blip stopped moving west. Second-place Zirkle inched closer, and passed King near the Safety checkpoint, about 20 miles from the finish line. Then, in Safety, Zirkle also appeared to stop moving. And as the night wore on, Dallas Seavey seemed to be closing the gap on two mushers who seemed out of range just hours ago. Could this be accurate? What was happening in the darkness on the Norton Sound coast?
A year later, Alaska Dispatch News sat down with King and Seavey to hear a compelling tale of how the events of that day transpired. Two of the sport's most accomplished mushers recount how plans unraveled and priorities changed when fierce winds threatened their very survival. In gripping detail, King describes how he made difficult decisions in an effort to do right by his dog team, ending his race entirely, heartbreakingly close to victory. Seavey explains how it's possible he could've charged hard to the finish through a cheering crowd while having no clue he was about to win his second Iditarod in three years.
Aliy Zirkle declined to participate for this video, saying that she preferred to look forward to the 2015 race rather than look back at the past.
Relive the historic finish of Iditarod 2014 though video interviews with mushers who experienced it firsthand.
Iditarod 2015: Full coverage of the Last Great Race
Alaska Dispatch Publishing