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Four-time Iditarod champ Lance Mackey concedes 2011 race

March 13, 2011 |  2:57 pm

Musher Lance Mackey with one of his sled dogs at a checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Defending and four-time consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Lance Mackey has decided that a five-peat isn't in the cards for him.

"This is somebody else's year," Mackey told the Alaska Dispatch after arriving at the Kaltag checkpoint. "We’ve been lucky and now it's someone else's turn," he said. "I’ll be the first to congratulate that winner as soon as I get there to see them."

Mackey said that he did a lot of thinking between recent checkpoints about his lost shot at a fifth win, and resolved that this year's race would not be about losing but instead remembered as the race that punctuated what has been a long run of good fortune.

"It would be really greedy of me to think that I should have another perfect run," the 40-year-old Fairbanks, Ala., musher said. "These are world-class dog teams I am running against and every one of them deserves a victory."

Who will get that victory remains to be seen, though it will likely be decided in the next few days.

Current race leader John Baker, 48, headed out of the Unalakleet checkpoint about three hours before the second-place team of Hans Gatt. During his layover at the previous checkpoint of Kaltag, Baker, a native Alaskan from Kotzebue, said that his strategy now to the finish will simply be to "keep traveling as much as we can" and to "just keep moving'' so as to maintain the lead he has established.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Musher Lance Mackey with one of his sled dogs at a checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News

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