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Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey profiled in ESPN The Magazine

October 18, 2010 |  2:57 pm

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.

Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Lance Mackey is one tough son-of-a-gun. The musher is profiled in the article, "Pushing through the pain," by Seth Wickersham in the Oct. 18 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

A truly remarkable athlete, Mackey speaks candidly about his life, including his fight with cancer, drug and alcohol addiction, losing body parts (including his left index finger) and how he keeps persevering through it all.

Next March, Mackey could become the first man to win five consecutive Iditarods, the "Last Great Race on Earth."

While some may decry the annual race as 1,000-miles of cruelty for the sled-dogs, with Mackey it is obvious he cares about his dogs -- not only those he races but also the ones he and his wife, Tonya, raise at Lance Mackey's Comeback Kennel, which sells and leases dogs to other mushers. If he doesn't like the way his customers care for his dogs, he often takes them back.

Lance Mackey shares a private moment with Rev, one of his sled dogs, during the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It is also obvious that Mackey doesn't compete in sled-dog racing to make millions of dollars but because it is his passion. In fact, his purse from the 2010 Iditarod was $50,400. He and Tonya still live in an unfinished house they bought three years ago in Fox, Alaska, and, as he told Wickersham, "I don't worry anymore. We used to live in a tent, for chrissakes."

The article is a great read, and gives insight into a man and athlete who, while likely little-known elsewhere, is one of the most-recognized names and faces in his home state of Alaska.

As commenter "lived9lives" says on the article's online comment board: "Thank you Seth for finally giving more than just lip service to this amazing athlete. The majority of the stories in this wonderful article are NEW which means you have really done your homework. Bravo! Now convince ESPN that Lance deserves to be nominated for Athlete of the Year. Certainly this story places him far above the countless spoiled athletes existing in their climate-controlled 'competitions' with their personal trainers, medical personnel, psychological experts and massive million dollar contracts!!! I'd like to see any of these athletes try to drive a 16-dog team a mere 1 mile even under the best weather conditions. Bravo Lance I'll be cheering for you this March."

I couldn't agree more.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photos: (top) 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; (bottom) Mackey shares a private moment with Rev during the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News / Associated Press

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