After a history-making race from Safety to Nome ended with Dallas Seavey sprinting to a second Iditarod victory, the top five mushers were all in to Nome by Tuesday afternoon, and posting some of the fastest times in Iditarod history.
Seavey shattered Kotzebue musher John Baker’s 2011 record for the fastest time to Nome by more than five hours, but his wasn’t the only record-breaking time to the finish.
Baker’s record of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds fell to Seavey’s time of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds. But what mushers described as an icy and mostly snowless trail nearly from beginning to end also led to the second- and even third-place mushers posting times that would have handily beaten Baker’s run.
Aliy Zirkle’s chase to Nome ended just two minutes and 22 seconds shy of Seavey’s, a time that any other year would have assured her a victory. As it stands, it was only fast enough to earn second place, the third consecutive second-place finish for the Two Rivers musher.
Third into Nome by 7:39 a.m. was defending Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey, who in his 21st Iditarod posted a personal best time to Nome of 8 days, 16 hours, 39 minutes and 40 seconds. The elder Seavey’s time also would have beaten Baker’s 2011 record by less than two hours. His race this year shaved roughly 15 hours off his 2013 win.
In fourth was Norwegian mushing phenomenon Joar Leifseth Ulsom, beating his rookie-year seventh-place finish from 2013. Ulsom steadily moved up the ranks along the Bering Sea coast, eventually whittling away a nearly three-hour lead by veteran musher Martin Buser out of Elim. Ulsom’s time would not have beaten Baker’s 2011 record, but he did shave nearly a day off his 2013 time.
Rounding out the top five into Nome Tuesday morning was Two Rivers musher Sonny Lindner, who similarly surged past Buser after leaving more than an hour behind him out of White Mountain.
Lindner’s fifth-place finish was the veteran musher’s strongest in over 30 years—a rare feat for any musher—bested only by his second-place finish in 1981.
Lindner’s trail time in the 2014 Iditarod also stands as a personal best. At 8 days, 20 hours, 50 minutes and 49 seconds, it's several days shorter than the last time he finished in the top five: his 1981 second-place finish had a trail time of 12 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes and 22 seconds.
In addition to race front runner Jeff King scratching, the race saw another high-profile scratch: Tok musher Hugh Neff, who dropped out of the race 10 miles shy of White Mountain. Race officials said Neff’s team “was having difficulty traveling well on Golovin Bay,” and after a volunteer went out to do a welfare check, Neff decided to scratch.