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Lance Mackey wins fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Lance Mackey holds two of his dogs, Rev and Maple, who wear rose garlands, after Mackey won his fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race.

With 11 dogs in harness including Rev and Maple in lead, musher Lance Mackey rode into Nome, Alaska, at 2:59 p.m. Tuesday, passing under the burled arch and the Widow's Lamp hanging from it to win the 38th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. As he crossed the line, Mackey, 39, raised his left fist in exuberance.

The Fairbanks musher also rode into the record books, becoming the first to win the "last great race on Earth"  four times in a row.

"I had seven dogs who would go to the end of the earth for me and nine more who would try," Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News at the finish line. "I've got a lot of young superstars and a bright future with them.

Mackey covered the 1,112 miles of the Northern Route in 51 seconds shy of 9 days, the second-fastest winning time ever, earning him the top prize of $50,400 plus a new Dodge truck.

After days of sub-zero temperatures, long hours of darkness and likely little sleep, Mackey, as exhausted as he must be, is already thinking ahead.

"I'll probably be back next year," he added. "I don't see why not. I'm a little beat up, though. I can only be so tough so long."

Still on the trail are 56 other teams of the 71 which started. Once the last musher is off the trail, the Widow's Lamp will be extinguished, marking the end of another Iditarod.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Lance Mackey holds two of his dogs, Rev and Maple, who wear rose garlands, after Mackey won his fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race. Credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News / Associated Press

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Comments (1)

Lance Mackey’s 11 dogs won this race, with the help of his 5 other “dropped” dogs. What happened to them? The race is not over until the last dog crosses the finish line, -- 9 more days? I care more about the dogs, who do not have a choice in this shameful race.

Sure, the dogs love to run, but not for 1100+ miles. The distance is too long and the conditions and terrain too grueling for the dogs. The dogs run over mountain ranges, ice, snow, rivers and creeks in harsh conditions (sub-freezing, breaking through ice, extreme wind chill, etc.). This race is a once-a-year, so-called “sporting” event that routinely kills young, healthy dogs and it has to stop. Six dogs died last year, bringing the total known to 142. How many will die this year?

These dogs are among the best-conditioned dogs in the world due to their training year-round, yet, for example, during the last 8 years less than half of the dogs made it to the finish line. This clearly proves how severe the race is for them. Also, when dogs are dropped, it’s harder for the remaining dogs to drag the sled and musher to the finish line. Unfortunately for the dogs, they are so loyal that they will run to exhaustion.

As of this time, (3/16/10 @ 11:00 PM, PST) 15 out of 71 mushers have “scratched” many indicating it was due to their dogs’ inability to continue (tired, sick, injured, just didn’t want to go, etc.). The race is more than half over for the majority of musher teams, and only one musher is racing with all 16 dogs. Seven mushers have “dropped” half or more of their 16 dogs (one racing with only 6 of his 16) Nine mushers have each dropped 7 of their dogs. There are more dropped dogs and the number is growing. http://www.iditarod.com/race/race/currentstandings.html

These, well-conditioned dogs consistently suffer injuries and illnesses, (hence the dropped dogs) and death. There are laws in at least 38 states against "over-driving" and "over-working" animals, which is exactly what the Iditarod does.

When they are not racing or training the dogs are kept tethered - every dog short-chained to its own small dog house. This is considered inhumane and is illegal in many communities. Is this any way for the mushers to show love and caring for their companion animals?

I cannot believe that the mushers truly love their dogs, because they are subjecting the dogs to the possibility of exhaustion, injuries, illnesses, and death.

As long as this race is hyped and the dark side not presented it will continue and the dogs will suffer and die.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.