“I’m really stoked for this race. You know, this is a big one for me,” Seavey told The Associated Press last week at his home in Talkeetna, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Anchorage. “It’s a big one for the Iditarod.”

Dallas Seavey is on the cusp of becoming mushing’s greatest ever champion, but he is also secure enough in himself to say that win or lose, this year’s race across Alaska will be his last — at least for a while, AP reports.

The defending champion who turned 35 Friday is tied with Rick Swenson for the most Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race victories, with five. Swenson, a 71-year-old known as the King of the Iditarod, won his titles between 1977-1991 and last ran the world’s most famous sled dog race in 2012, the year Seavey won his first.

Seavey has his shot to make history in the 50th running of the Iditarod, which starts in Anchorage on Saturday. First run in 1973, the nearly 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) race takes mushers and their dog teams over Alaska’s unforgiving terrain, including two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River and the treacherous Bering Sea ice to finish in the old Gold Rush town of Nome, on Alaska’s western coast.

Seavey grew up around mushing and his family lore is steeped in the race. His grandfather Dan Seavey ran in the very first Iditarod and still mushes recreationally today in his 80s. Dallas’ father, Mitch, won titles in 2004, 2013 and 2017.

But if Dallas Seavey doesn’t bag his sixth crown this month after also winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016, he’s not entirely sure how many more races he has in him.

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