Lance Mackey Makes It Four in a Row
"He could take your dogs and beat his team with your dogs. That's how good of a musher he is." Musher Hugh Neff comments on Lance Mackey.
IDITAROD XXXVIII Musher Lance Mackey (Bib # 49) arrived in Nome Alaska at 2:59 pm Alaska Time with 11 dogs, and is the first musher in Iditarod Race history to win four back to back Iditarod Championships. Mackey gave all the credit to his team and his leaders… especially his three year old female Maple (last year’s Golden Harness winner).Lance Mackey has been the Ironman of mushing the last five years. Winning four straight Iditarods, while also winning four Yukon Quest races. Unheard of performance.
Mackey’s team made it to Nome in 8 days, 23 Hours, 59 Minutes, 9 Seconds making him the second musher to ever eclipse the 9 day barrier. 4 time Iditarod Champion Martin Buser still holds the record.
But no one has ever accomplished what the incredible Lance Mackey has; win 4 straight Iditarod Championships. Mackey did say that he thinks he’s up for a fifth in 2011.
I have a feeling if history is any indication that the Mackey era may be drawing to a close. In 38 Iditarods there have only been 16 men and two women made it to the winners circle. Only seven of those have ever one it more than once, and only Rick Swenson has ever done it five times. In every case the mushers that have won four put together a short lived dynasty.
Part of it I think is the tremendous amount of dedication, hard work and money it takes to make it to the starting line every year which makes it difficult to maintain winning performance for more than a few years. Part of it has to be the physical toll. It takes years to raise and train a winning team, learn the trail, and how to operate efficiently in bitter cold with little sleep. I imagine that it takes more than a few years off you when you race at the level. Mackey may be different but we'll see.
We spend a lot of time every year focusing on those that are battling at the front of the pack because that is where the action is. Its easy to forget however that for every famous musher there are dozens of hearty men and women that make the the trek to Nome for no other reason than the love of adventure and the love of the dogs. Some of them may go on to build a mushing dynasty but most just want to live the Iditarod dream.