I hereby submit Dan Seavey for your consideration for induction into the Iditarod Hall of Fame. My perception is that, apart from the late Joe Redington Sr., those already making up the Hall were deemed deserving because of a single meritorious area of achievement or contribution. However, as was Joe, Dan Seavey is “Iditarod multifaceted,” being distinctive for achievements and contributions in several areas of Iditarod. Each is noteworthy enough by itself to make him deserving of your consideration.
To make the point I wish about the depth, breadth, and variation of Dan Seavey’s Iditarod legacy requires me to first stand him beside Joe Redington and discuss the passions and visions that drove Joe to father the Iditarod. Addressing wonderment that I would trumpet one person by going to some length to relate background of another, my reason will become plain.
When Joe arrived in Alaska he fell in with an elderly neighbor, Lee Ellexson. Lee had once owned the Happy River Roadhouse and had weekly run the Knik ̶ Rainy Pass mail over the Iditarod Trail, three days out, three back, and a day of rest. Soon after meeting him, Joe found himself on the old sourdough’s sled heading over a nearby section of the Iditarod bound for the man’s trapline. Marveling at Ellixson’s well-trained, hardworking team of seven old breed freight dogs—big as wolves observed Lee’s passenger—Joe became hooked on driving dogs.
But as much as the mushing with Lee instilled an attraction to life on the runners, it was listening spellbound to Ellixson’s remembrances of life on the mail run and stories of the route during its glory that began to magnetize Joe. He thrilled to Lee’s recollections of legendary dogs driven by legendary drivers and his telling of how the gold rush trail itself became a trail of legend. Joe became more and more captivated by the history and romance of the famous old trace.
Dreams began to germinate that would later find their outlet in Joe’s consuming drive to bring about that for which he became famous—fathering Iditarod the Race. That it was to him in part a kind of Old North reenactment was evident to all who knew Joe well. Further, those romantic motivations fueled his push to gain establishment of the Iditarod as a National Trail. Joe and a small group of stalwarts who linked arms with him—Dan Seavey was one of the foremost—through a sustained effort, gained the support of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to honor the Iditarod as one of the few trails significant enough in our nation’s history to be counted worthy of designation as a National Historic Trail.
The Secretary followed that rarified-air listing with appointment of a number of select citizens to serve on the Iditarod National Historic Trail Advisory Council. Among those were some of us who had been Iditarod founding mushers. While most served a stint and drifted on, Dan has been, by a great margin, the most ardent and enduring of us all. He’s the only one of the originals still there, serving energetically in the modern incarnation of our original council.
Now here we are finishing the fourth decade of Iditarod races. As the years and decades have rolled by and the race has compounded in size and complexity, the race governing body, the Iditarod Trail Committee, has had its plate heaped more than full organizing, promoting, and running the event. At the same time, the administration of the Iditarod National Historic Trail has grown so much more defined and demanding that the small staff of its governing/steering office within the Bureau of Land Management must channel all of its attention and energy into the assigned task.
So here we have Iditarod the Race, and Iditarod the Trail naturally following their own forks, going their own ways like the Northern and Southern Routes. Although this race ̶ trail divergence is unavoidable due to division of labor and the dissimilarities of the two engagements, each with its own set of marching orders, whatever the rationalization for the separation, this disattachment within the greater Iditarod landscape is certainly far different from the day when Joe fathered both race and trail and considered them quite linked. Those who knew Joe well would vouch that if he were alive today the disconnection would make him more than uncomfortable. He would probably set about building bridges.
Fortunately, to do just that we have Dan Seavey. We’ve always had him and without him it’s safe to say the present race ̶ trail separation would be even greater. Taking up his involvements as expressions of love for both driving dogs and preserving history, he may not have thought of anything he has done as taking up a crusade to keep the two Iditarods together. However, in the four decades of the race and trail, more than anyone else—far more—Dan has been more like Joe in holding a dual passion, vision, and unflagging dedication to working for the enhancement of both and seeing the two as integrated. I will not go into all of the ways he has exercised his zeal, serving in upper level positions in both race and trail organizations. The supporting letters and downloads I’m including in this proposal packet well serve to show and praise his many involvements, achievements, and honors.
The Hall of Fame has never taken in anyone representing the National Historic Trail realm of Iditarod. Now in 2012, this final year of the four-year-long celebration of the centennial of the Iditarod gold discovery and building of the Iditarod Trail; now in 2012, the year of Dan’s own grand celebration of that centennial wherein he ran the race not for a fast time, but to give talks in villages along the way promoting value of the historic trail and the crucial role of local volunteerism in trail stewardship; now this year of 2012 presents especially apropos timing for inducting Dan Seavey into the Iditarod Hall of Fame for his contributions to Iditarod the Trail.
As I before stated, Dan’s holds multifaceted distinctions that argue for his inclusion in the Hall. Sharing the lead in the pack of three until the final miles of the trailbreaking running of the Iditarod, he finished third. So unselfishly spirited was he in his fervency to do what he could to assure that the race not be a one-and-done event, he loaned back to Joe Redington his prize money. Dan has always had the respect and admiration of the mushers. And of course, being the patriarch of one of Iditarod’s two families of champions enhances Dan’s stature on the race side of Iditarod. In that vein, this year of 2012 being the second race in which three generations of Seaveys competed, and 2012 being the year his grandson, Dallas Seavey became the youngest champion in race history, 2012 seems, again, an especially appropriate year to induct Dan into the Iditarod Hall of Fame for his contributions to Iditarod the Race.
An aside: Should you choose Dan you will be honoring the man with the longest continual active involvement and service to either Iditarod the Trail or Iditarod the Race, not only extant, but ever.