Tucker, GA — It may be rainy and cool in Georgia, but a musher from Tucker is experiencing zero-degree weather with a slight wind on the Norton Sound coastline of Alaska.
As of this morning, Sean Underwood is 76 miles from finishing the 2021 Iditarod dog sledding race. The last leg could take up to 10 hours – it’s a journey that runs from Finger Lake to Skwentna after a mandatory eight-hour break for the crew. Family members expect Underwood to complete the thousand-mile competition in the late afternoon in Nome.
Currently in first place is Dallas Seavey of Virginia, followed by Aaron Burmeister of Alaska and Brent Sass of Minnesota. Day nine of the race, Underwood is in 30th position of 36 teams remaining.
This week, Underwood and his team battled gravel, sandbars on the river, driftwood tangles and large stretches of slick ice heading into Rohn. Some of his friends scratched, ending their participation in the race, due to a stomach bug that hit the sledding dogs.
Along the way, Underwood has dropped three dogs at checkpoints due to injuries or exhaustion. The animals are cared for by veterinarians at checkpoints, then flown back to their owners.
Although the 29-year-old has lived in Denali for four years, Underwood graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2014. He traveled extensively in Central and South America, visiting relatives and becoming fluent in Spanish. In 2015 and 2016, he lived with his aunt and uncle in Alaska while working as a commercial fisherman.
Sean’s race history includes the 2016 Alpine Creek Excursions Race, 2017 Tustumena 200, 2018 Copper Basin 300, 2020 Yukon Quest 300 and the 2020 Goose Bay 150 Dog Sled Race.
In 2020, Underwood came within 30 miles of finishing his first Iditarod race. According to WSB-TV, 30 miles of the finish line he suffered a setback that nearly cost him his life.
“A winter storm in the middle of the night caused a surge along the Bering Sea,” WSB-TV reported. “Standing in frigid, knee high water, Underwood was able to lead the dogs to safety, but he was becoming hypothermic and ultimately had to hit the emergency beacon and request help.”
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