NOME, Alaska -- Dallas Seavey ran a blistering closing pace to rally from third place and win his second Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Tuesday in a record-breaking finish, after a sudden storm blew the front-runner out of contention and kept another musher minutes away from her first win.
Seavey, 27, was the first musher under the famed burled arch finish line in Nome. He erased a three-hour deficit over the last 77 miles in catching the two mushers in front of him, four-time champion Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle, who came in second. Seavey finished the race in eight days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds, easily breaking the record set in 2011.
John Baker held the previous record of eight days, 18 hours and 46 minutes.
Zirkle was 2 minutes, 22 seconds behind Seavey. Zirkle finished second in 2012 and 2013, as well.
King was cruising to a record-tying fifth win when a gust of wind blew him off course, effectively taking him out of the mix just miles from Nome. Until then, he had a safe lead of an hour.
Seavey holds the record for being the youngest champion ever; he was 25 when he won in 2012.
He comes from a mushing family. His grandfather, Dan Seavey, helped organize the first Iditarod in 1973. His father, Mitch Seavey, has twice won the nearly 1,000-mile race across Alaska. Mitch won in 2006 and last year became the race's oldest champion at 53.
Dallas Seavey was also a champion wrestler. In 2003, he became Alaska's first junior champion, winning the 125-pound title. He's also a participant on the reality television series "Ultimate Survival Alaska."
Seavey says he's somewhat of a hermit and doesn't own a television. The only time he sees an episode of the show is when he downloads it on his computer.
"I don't leave my training compound if I can help it,'' he said. "If I leave, it's by dog team, not by vehicle."
The trail this year has been marred by poor conditions because of a lack of snow after a warm winter by Alaska standards. A number of mushers were injured at the beginning of the race as their sleds ran on gravel near the Dalzell Gorge. One musher, Scott Janssen of Anchorage, had to be rescued by a National Guard helicopter crew after breaking an ankle.
Snowless conditions again greeted mushers as they reached the western coast of the nation's largest state.
The race began March 2 in Willow with 69 teams. As of Tuesday morning, 17 mushers had dropped out and one was withdrawn.
The Iditarod winner receives $50,000 and a new truck. The 29 teams after that get cash prizes decreasing on a sliding scale. All other teams finishing the race receive $1,049.