I've decided to rename part 1 'How the Seavey Boys Win Races.' I realized after writing it that while it explained how they race, it didn't begin to explain the why. The answer to that can be summed up in one word. Time.
No, not running time or resting time. Real time. As in the most valuable commodity on earth.
While we were standing under the arch this morning, my grandpa Dan said this was his 25th trip to Nome. He doesn't vacation here. That's a lot of Iditarods. He and my grandma Shirley have been here every year I can remember. They came when my dad was 22nd. They came when he was 15th. Then 16th. Then 16th again. Of those 25 trips, they've only been related to the winner 5 times, all in the past few years. They stuck through 20 years of losses before the wins started coming.
They were also at all our Junior Iditarod races growing up. And wrestling meets. And singing recitals. They flew to Hawaii for every one of my cousin's bike races. My grandpa hates Hawaii, he'd much rather vacation in Nome. They were at my other cousin's riding shows.
It's not just the grandparents. A small (sometimes mid-sized) army of relatives shows up everywhere we go. We raced in Minnesota a couple times, and even at the 'Away' race, we had by far the biggest cheering section. Evidently we're related to half of Minnesota. And Michigan.
And it's not just events either. The family is together for every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and most sunny summer evenings. Just for good measure, we get together on a lot of evenings that aren't sunny. Burned hot dogs in the rain is a summer tradition.
Some of the family aren't even related. Some of them don't get along. Some of them do all the work. Some do all the talking. But they're all there. Some leave for a while. They come back.
You'd have a hard time telling by listening to us, we're usually arguing over something, but only with the full and unquestioned knowledge that we're all each other's best friends, and nothing will ever change that.
It has been that way as long as I can remember, and I hope it'll be that way for as long as I'm here. I say 'hope,' but once you know what you want, it's relatively easy to get it. It will be that way as long as I'm here. I will be at my grandkids' science fair.
I've been interviewed a lot lately. TVs are attracted to news, and things like Iditarod championships. They interview 'the rest of the family' because they think it's a cool story that the Iditarod Champion has a big family history.
I think it's a cool story that the big family history has an Iditarod Champion. But it wouldn't make the tiniest bit of difference if we didn't. I was blessed twice in the family department. You all know my dad's side of the family. You've never heard of my mom's side (Except for those of you in the half of the state of Virginia I'm related to). Everything I've written could be said of them as well. They just have chosen to put their efforts into endeavors that don't often attract TV cameras. They easily could, but they have different hobbies.
What do burned hot dogs have to do with a dog race? Everything. Support. Accountability. Drive. Role Models. Tradition. But most of all, confidence. Win, lose, scratch or never even start, we are still loved, valued, and important. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to raise my daughters in this family.
If you have kids, or grandkids, or nieces or nephews, or good friends who do, go to their soccer practice. Be at their birthday party. Be the obnoxious person cheering at the swim meet even though every other kid is already out of the water. They may not even acknowledge your presence now. They will someday. If your pride is preventing you from doing so. swallow it. It'll be the best decision you ever make.
Someday, when that kid is deciding what to smoke, what to wear, who to date, or how big of a storm he can mush through, he'll think of you. You thought he hung the moon, now he does too. You can choose your friends, but you have to be blessed with family.
Dallas and his cousin Tarah playing with the pony in my grandparents yard, circa 1999