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Category: Sled dog racing

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

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

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.

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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.

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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

To follow this blog on Twitter, please visit @latimesoutposts

City of Nome makes financial contribution to this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

A musher drives his team on to Nome, with the sun hugging the horizon, during a previous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race received another financial boost this week, thanks to a $50,000 donation by the city of Nome, where the finish line of the iconic event has been since the first race was held in 1973.

“This comes as incredibly welcome news, particularly given our financial challenges over the past year or more,” Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee, said in a press release.

“There are many things that we appreciate about the City of Nome, but in the end, what makes the community is its people. It’s a special place, full of special people, with a 'can do' attitude,” added Hooley.

The donation comes on the heels of one made last week by four-time race champion Jeff King, who contributed $50,000 to this year's race purse.

"The Iditarod is an important celebration of Alaskan life," said Nome Mayor Denise Michels. “Our hope is that others who benefit will look for ways to either get involved for the first time, or increase their support, to help the Iditarod rebound from what has been a challenging twelve months.”

The race is scheduled to being March 6 in Anchorage and will cover 1,112 miles using the Northern Route, as is done in even-numbered years.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A musher drives his team on to Nome, with the sun hugging the horizon, during a previous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press

Note: To follow this blog on Twitter please visit @latimesoutposts

Past Iditarod champ donates $50,000 to increase this year's race purse

Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Jeff King drives his team from the ceremonial start of the race in 2008.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has taken a beating. Not only have animal-welfare groups decried the annual event as cruel to its animal participants but the race budget, including the prize money going to winners, has been cut dramatically.

The budget for this year's race has been slashed, cut more than $500,000. The purse, which just two years ago was $925,000, would be no more than $525,000.

Enter Jeff King, a four-time race champion. On Monday, King donated $50,000 to the organization, the entire amount to be added to the prize money for the top race finishers.

"I'm not a rich man," King told the Anchorage Daily News. "But I've won a lot of money with the Iditarod. I'm hoping I can stimulate others -- even if it's just a few bucks."

King, who won the event in 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2006, earned $765,520 in Iditarod winnings. The $50,000 donation matches the amount King pocketed after his first Iditarod win.

"If you'd asked me then if I'd be willing to pay it back 25 years later, interest free, for opening doors it opened for me, I hope I would have said yes," King said. "It seemed like a huge amount of money at first ... but the race has given me more."

This year's 1,112-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race is scheduled to begin the first weekend in March and will be using the Northern Route, as is done in even-numbered years.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Jeff King drives his team from the ceremonial start of the race in 2008. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press

Note: To follow this blog on Twitter please visit @latimesoutposts

Alaska sled dog race canceled because of lack of snow

Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey drives his team into a checkpoint at last year's race.

The Sheep Mountain 150 sled dog race scheduled to take place Dec. 12-13 has been canceled because of insufficient snow.

The race is the first mid-distance contest of the season and is used by many mushers as a warmup for the 1,112-mile Iditarod, scheduled to begin March 6.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Talkeetna Mountains did not receive enough snowfall in the higher elevations to safely run the race.

"Although there is good snow cover in the area immediately around Sheep Mountain and Eureka Lodges, as soon as you get into the high country, it disappears to a dangerously thin level," race director Zack Steer said.

"There is not enough snow to support 45 dog teams, especially on the downhill sections in the mountains," Steer said. "Mushers are not able to control their dog teams without adequate snow to operate the sled brake. Safety for the dogs and the mushers is paramount to this race, and right now that is not possible."

Steer said the race will not be rescheduled.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey drives his team into a checkpoint at last year's race. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press

Iditarod claims fourth dog as 1,000-mile race winds to a close

Kazen, one of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher Warren Palfrey's sled dogs, rest in its pen before the ceremonial start of the race on March 7. A different member of Palfrey's team perished Thursday on the trail.

**UPDATE: An 8-year-old dog in the team run by Rick Larson died Friday, increasing to five the number of dogs to have died in this year's Iditarod.

As the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winds to a close, the death toll among dogs has reached four. The latest casualty in the grueling competition was a 5-year-old male dog named Maynard.

He was part of a team guided by Canadian musher Warren Palfrey. The dog died Thursday about an hour from of the finish line at Nome, Alaska.

Animal rights advocates have been highly critical of a race that they say is tantamount to canine torture.

About 30 mushers remain on the trail of a race won Wednesday by Fairbanks musher Lance Mackey. It was Mackey's third consecutive event title, and afterward he retired his lead dog, Larry.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Kazen, one of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher Warren Palfrey's sled dogs, rest in its pen before the ceremonial start of the race on March 7. A different member of Palfrey's team perished Thursday on the trail. Credit: Al Grillo/Associated Press

Iditarod cruel to dogs? Consider the ongoing slaughter in Iraq

Mitch Seavey leaves the Kaltag, Ala., checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race last Sunday.

In the wake of another Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, and the death of two canine competitors, came the usual complaints: The race is cruel. The dogs are put through hell against their will. And so on and so forth.

Anchorage Daily News outdoors columnist Craig Medred, who has been covering the 1,000-mile race, turned the spotlight elsewhere in a column earlier this week: Iraq.

Medred quoted from a story in the New York Times on the canine slaughter occurring simultaneously with the war.

While the fighting consumed everyone's attention dogs were abandoned and multiplied by the thousands. Wrote the NYT's Sam Dagher: "Now stray dogs are such a menace that municipal workers are hunting them down, slaughtering some 10,000 in Baghdad just since December."

Of such groups as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which criticize the Iditarod annually, Medred wrote: "Needless to say, they haven't been worrying about the dogs in Iraq. Maybe if these were whales. Whales get worried about everywhere it seems, but dead dogs only attract attention if they happen to die in the Iditarod."

About those dogs in Iraq, many are being poisoned with strychnine-laced meat. Some are being captured and shot. They're considered a public health hazard that must be eliminated.

To be sure, compared with dogs living in Iraq, those on the Iditarod Trail, which are bred and raised for long-distance competitions, lead a pretty good life.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Mitch Seavey leaves the Kaltag, Ala., checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race last Sunday. Credit: Al Grillo/Associated Press

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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