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Category: Alaska

Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey featured on 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel'

Lance Mackey shares a private moment with Rev, one of his sled dogs, during the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Like Sarah Palin, four-time Iditarod winner Lance Mackey is probably one of the most-recognized names and faces in his home state of Alaska. Get outside the 49th state, however, and the 39-year-old musher is likely little-known.

Mackey is the modern-day champion of the 1,100-plus mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, enduring days of sub-zero temperatures, long hours of darkness and little sleep to ride into the record books this year as the only musher to win the "last great race on Earth" four consecutive times (he is also the only musher to win the Yukon Quest, another challenging 1,000 mile sled dog race, four times, doing so in consecutive years).

Now, others will have the opportunity to learn a little about Mackey, who will be featured in one of the segment's on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, debuting at 10 p.m.Tuesday on HBO

Correspondent Jon Frankel traveled to Alaska to speak with Mackey, visiting him at home where he  lives with his family (which includes a pack of 12 house dogs that are rescued canines), and runs his sled dog facility, Comeback Kennel.

"I'm addicted to dogs, and not just sled dogs.  I love 'em all.  All the dogs I got runnin' around my house are -- are pretty much, you know rescue dogs," Mackey told Frankel. "Nobody else give 'em a chance or -- or the time of day.  And -- and I felt that was kinda me as well.  And -- and -- and because of it, I think the relationship I have with my dogs today is -- is second to none." 

Mackey delves into his relationship with his father, Dick, who in 1978 won the Iditarod by one second. He also discusses his youth, when he seemed lost in a vortex of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as his battle with throat cancer, which he wasn't expected to survive.

The segment focused more on Mackey's past rather than the present, which I would have liked to have heard more about -- his family life with wife Tonya and their three children, his work tutoring other mushers, and what he does when not training for races -- but I still found it interesting. Perhaps Mackey wanted it that way though, wishing to remain a bit mysterious, like some of the Alaskan tundra he crosses during the iconic race.

The episode will re-air at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday as well as on May 20, 23, 25, 29 and 31.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Lance Mackey shares a private moment with Rev, one of his sled dogs, during the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News / Associated Press

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Climber falls to his death from Alaska's Mt. McKinley

A view of the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley on a crisp, clear day.

A French mountaineer fell to his death Sunday while climbing Alaska's Mt. McKinley. According to the news release, Pascal Frison, 51, and his climbing partner were approaching a feature known as "Lunch Rocks," near 12,000 feet on the West Buttress. Losing control of his sled, Frison attempted to stop it from sliding over the ridge, but both Frison and his sled tumbled toward the Peters Glacier. Frison, who was un-roped at the time, was unable to stop and fell more than 1,000 feet to a steep, crevased section of the Peters Glacier.

A nearby team witnessed the fall and made a radio distress call shortly after 3 p.m. to Denali National Park rangers. The park's high-altitude helicopter arrived at the accident site within five minutes, where spotters on board saw several pieces of fallen gear, and followed the fall line down to what appeared to be the climber laying in a crevasse at approximately 10,200 feet.

The steep terrain at the fall site offered no feasible landing areas, so helicopter and crew returned to the Kahiltna Basecamp, where they picked up mountaineering ranger Kevin Wright and returned to the area with Wright on a 'short-haul' line, hanging beneath the helicopter at the end of a 120-foot rope.

Pilot Andy Hermansky attempted to lower Wright into the crevasse, but could not safely reach Frison; however Wright readily determined that the climber had not survived the fall. Rangers plan to return to the site Monday for further reconnaissance and to determine if a body recovery is an option. Frison’s accident is the first known fatality in this area of the West Buttress route.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A view of the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley on a crisp, clear day. Credit: National Park Service

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Jeremy Wade returns for a second season of 'River Monsters,' beginning Sunday on Animal Planet

Jeremy Wade with a Congo tiger fish. There are monsters that live amongst us.

I hesitate to go into the ocean because of the dangerous denizens of the deep that reside there. Now I may start thinking twice about going into lakes as well, thanks to the preview episode from the second season of "River Monsters" that I recently watched.

Extreme angler and biologist Jeremy Wade is back, tracking down and fishing for some of the most threatening-looking freshwater fish found worldwide. The new season will begin Sunday, April 25, at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.

"'River Monsters' is breaking new ground," Wade said in a press release. "Even in the 21st century, there are genuine mysteries to be solved and discoveries to be made in rivers and ultimately shown to the outside world."

Traveling to exotic locations including the Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa, as well as spots in the U.S. such as Florida and Alaska, Wade attempts to land some of the most mysterious freshwater fish, including the Congo tiger fish, with teeth as long as the animal it's named after; the Zambezi river shark, a species that lives 100 miles from the sea; and the snakehead, a Far Eastern predator that’s now invading America’s backyards.

"Freshwater is probably the last frontier of wildlife filmmaking," added Wade. "Although lakes and rivers comprise less than 1% of the Earth’s water, we probably know less about what lives in fresh water than in oceans."

Episode 1 sees Wade heading to Thailand in search of the giant freshwater stingray, which can grow to more than 1,000 pounds and is equipped with a venomous barb on the end of its whip-like tail (Wade reminds viewers that Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray).

Though it did have some graphic wound sequences that were a bit shocking, I found the show utterly fascinating as well as educational, and it left me wanting to see the additional six episodes of the season.

I guess you could say I'm hooked.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jeremy Wade with a Congo tiger fish. Credit: Animal Planet

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officially ends with no sled dog deaths

Lance Mackey drives his dog team down Front Street in Nome, Alaska, on his way to winning his fourth consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. No sled dogs died during this year's race.

The final musher crossed under the burled arch in Nome, Alaska, at the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, marking the official end to the 2010 competition. 

Rookie musher Celeste Davis, 37, was awarded the Red Lantern, given to the last team to finish the race.

Davis, from Deer Lodge, Mont., finished in 13 days, 5 hours, 6 minutes and 40 seconds, the fastest Red Lantern time in the race's 38-year history.

With the last musher off the trail, officials noted that there have been no dog deaths related to this year's Iditarod, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

"To stand there and watch that last team come in, I'll tell you, is the highlight of my veterinarian career," chief race veterinarian Stuart Nelson said. "I think it's a pretty safe assumption that this is a first."

Continue reading »

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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Defending champion Lance Mackey in great position to win the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Lance Mackey leaves the Elim checkpoint after a brief stop on Monday.

It appears that nothing will stop Lance Mackey from winning this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The determined musher reached the White Mountain checkpoint at 9 p.m. Monday. He already has the mandatory eight-hour layover at that checkpoint behind him.

Ahead of him are only 77 miles to the finish line in Nome and his fourth consecutive Iditarod championship, a new race record.

Mackey arrived at the Elim checkpoint about two hours ahead of the second-place team of Jeff King, reports the Anchorage Daily News. Instead of stopping, Mackey flew through the checkpoint, stopping only long enough to feed his dog team and grab a cup of coffee.

King has since fallen to third, deciding to rest his team in Elim. Hans Gatt paused for just 16 minutes in town before chasing after Mackey.

King, a four-time Iditarod winner, said he didn't expect to catch up unless Mackey made a mistake.

"We'll see if he steps on his cape or somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down," King said.

At this point, it looks as if this is Mackey's race, and the only thing that might keep him from winning is his team quitting on him, which is unlikely.

"We've been asking a lot of them here," Mackey said after arriving in White Mountain. "As you can tell, we still haven't bottomed out," he said, pointing out that his dogs were eating and had their heads up. "As long as they're doing that, we're moving."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Lance Mackey leaves the Elim checkpoint after a brief stop on Monday. Credit: Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News/Associated Press

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Defending champion Lance Mackey leads Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Lance Mackey leaves the Unalakleet checkpoint in first place on Sunday during the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is really heating up, with two race veterans currently in first and second place with less than 170 miles to Nome, each hoping to win the "last great race on Earth" and each looking to set race records.

Defending and three-time champion Lance Mackey is in the lead, though four-time champion Jeff King is hot on his trail, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

Both mushers have made it past the Shaktoolik-to-Koyuk leg, which runs mostly across the sea ice on the Northern Sound, and are on route to Elim, Golovin, and then White Mountain, where an eight-hour layover is mandatory to allow dog teams to rest before the final rush to Nome, approximately 75 miles away (with one more checkpoint along the way).

As of Monday morning, Mackey had extended his lead to 74 minutes over King. Should Mackey hold on, he will win his fourth consecutive Iditarod, setting a new record for consecutive victories.

King, who has stated that this will be his last year competing, is looking to win his fifth race and join musher Rick Swenson as the only musher in the history of the Iditarod to win five races.

Continue reading »

Four-time champion Jeff King leads Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Jeff King checks his watch as he leaves a checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King was the first musher to make it to the checkpoint in Ruby, Alaska, the 14th of 25 checkpoints in this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

King, who has made it known that this will be his last year competing, arrived at 3:08 a.m. Friday with 15 dogs on his team.

As the recipient of the "First Musher to the Yukon Award," King was treated to an eight-course meal prepared on camp stoves by the Millennium Hotel Anchorage Food and Beverage manager, Jared Leake.

This year’s menu included Alaskan king crab, bison stew, and grilled halibut in citrus sauce, plus a lemon sorbet and a blackberry jubilee. He also won $3,500 in $1 bills.

Thus far, 11 other teams have reached Ruby, according to the Live Leader Board posted on the Anchorage Daily News website, including defending and three-time champion Lance Mackey as well as last year's second-place finisher, Sebastian Schnuelle, of Whitehorse, Canada.

Continue reading »

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race teams reach halfway checkpoint

Musher Jessie Royer and her team arrives in Nikolai, Alaska, on Tuesday during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Seven mushers and their teams have reached the halfway point of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, reaching the checkpoint in Cripple, Alaska, on Thursday.

Musher Dallas Seavey was the first to arrive at the checkpoint early this morning, netting the GCI Dorothy Page Halfway Award and $3,000 in gold nuggets for being first to reach the "Official halfway point" on the Northern Route.

The 22-year-old musher still holds first place while his father, Mitch Seavey, winner of the 2004 Iditarod and also competing this year, is currently listed in ninth place.

The leg from Cripple to the next checkpoint in Ruby is approximately 112 miles, and is the longest distance between two checkpoints in the 1,112-mile race.

Defending and three-time champion Lance Mackey is currently listed in 11th place on the Live Leader Board posted on the Anchorage Daily News website.

Continue reading »

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race update

Iditarod rookie Pat Moon hugs his favorite dog, Hera, as Lumber, left, places a paw on him as they await the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commenced a few days ago, and already there has been some action in the "last great race on Earth."

Four-time winner Jeff King, from Denali, who has made it known that this is his last competitive year in the race, was the first musher to arrive in McGrath, the ninth of the races 25 checkpoints.

King was also the first out, three minutes after checking in, and is currently listed in fourth place.

Of the 71 teams that started, five are out of the race, including one involving an accident that left the musher unconscious.

Continue reading »

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is on the road to Nome

Three-time and reigning Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, left, visits with rookie Newton Marshall, of Jamaica, before the competitors left at the start in Willow, Alaska, on Sunday.

The 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race kicked off this weekend, with 71 mushers and their dog teams heading to Nome to vie for the championship.

With both Saturday's ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage and the official restart from Willow behind them, the teams will cover 1,112 miles using the Northern Route, as is done in even-numbered years.

Called the "last great race on Earth," each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover the distance in 10 to 17 days, with 25 checkpoints, including Anchorage and Nome, along the way.

Among the competitors is defending and three-time champion Lance Mackey, an Alaska native from Fairbanks, who is hoping to win his fourth Iditarod in a row, which would set a new record for consecutive wins.

Also back is Sebastian Schnuelle, of Whitehorse, Canada, who finished second last year; five-time winner Rick Swenson, a Two Rivers, Alaska, resident whose most recent win came in 1991;  and four-time winner Jeff King, from Denali, who has made it known that this is his last competitive year in the race.

A musher who has received much media attention recently is Newton Marshall, a 26-year-old rookie from Jamaica. While not likely a serious contender, Marshall did some training with Mackey leading up to this race and, most recently, became the first Jamaican ever to complete the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race, finishing 13th out of a field of 29 mushers in 2009.

Here's wishing all competitors -- both human and canine -- luck on their journey over the next few weeks. Hopefully all will arrive safely in Nome.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Three-time and reigning Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, left, visits with rookie Newton Marshall, of Jamaica, before the competitors leave at the start in Willow, Alaska, on Sunday. Credit: Associated Press / Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News

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Capt. Phil Harris, of 'Deadliest Catch,' dies at age 53

HarrisPhil Harris, captain of one of the crab-fishing vessels featured on the Discovery Channel series "Deadliest Catch" has died after having a stroke last month, reports our sister blog Ministry of Gossip. Harris was 53.

Harris suffered a stroke Jan. 29 while in port offloading his boat, the 128-foot Cornelia Marie.

His sons, Jake and Josh, who work as deckhands on the vessel, have released the following statement, which is posted on the Discovery Channel website:

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers.

Discovery Channel also released a statement:

Discovery mourns the loss of dear friend and colleague Captain Phil Harris. He was more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart. We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil's every move. We send our thoughts and prayers to Phil's sons Josh and Jake and the Cornelia Marie crew.

Fans wanting to leave condolence messages can do so on the Discovery Channel message board.

The popular television series "Deadliest Catch" follows the adventures of seven crabbing vessels and their crews during the Alaskan king crab season in the Bering Sea. A sixth season has been announced for broadcast this year.

The Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is the base of operations for the fishing fleet.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Capt. Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie. Credit: Discovery Channel

RELATED:

Capt. Phil Harris, of 'Deadliest Catch,' shows improvement after suffering stroke

Capt. Phil Harris, of 'Deadliest Catch,' suffers stroke

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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