If anyone tries to tell you that baby boomers are “old”, remind them of Mitch Seavey’s accomplishment this week. At age 57, Mitch set the record for the fastest time in the 1,000 mile, dog-sled race across Alaska. He defeated not only the other 73 younger races, but won out over his son, Dallas, age 30. In fact, Mitch’s record time surpassed by two hours the time set by Dallas last year.
Dog mushing is in the Seavey’s blood – Mitch’s father, Dan Seavey, Sr, was one of the original founding members of the Iditarod. He completed the cold, long challenge again in 2012, at the age of 74, and has spawned a family dynasty in dog mushing.
The Iditarod is a test of athletic skill and endurance, for the mushers and for the dogs doing the work. This symbiosis of human and canine skill is another fine example of all the ways that dogs enrich our lives and permit us to remain vital in later years. Mitch’s dogs teamed with him to cross 1,000 miles of frozen snow and ice in record time; for some elders, it is just as essential for their dogs to take them on daily walks. The Seavey family motto should apply to all dog owners: “Take care of your dogs and they’ll take care of you.”
Mitch is a role model for those of us in middle age who want to grow bolder and better. His knowledge, skill and experience, combined with sincere respect for his dogs, lets him continue to perform at the highest level in an arduous sport, even outcompeting his own son. I look at Mitch’s accomplishment and think to myself, “Toughen up! Age is no excuse.”