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Musher Lance Mackey wins his third consecutive Iditarod dogsled race

March 18, 2009 |  1:56 pm

Lance Mackey drives his team up the finish chute of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

As many Iditarod watchers expected, musher Lance Mackey today won the Alaska race for the third consecutive year.  He reached the finish line at 11:38 a.m.; immediately afterward, he rewarded his victorious team with treats. The second- and third-place finishers, Sebastian Schnuelle and John Baker, were about six hours behind Mackey's team.

"This never gets old," Mackey told the Associated Press while hugging two of his dogs.  "It's pretty awesome... Pretty cool."  He gave a special mention to Maple, a 3-year-old female who was his team's lead dog for much of the final portion of the race. 

Mackey becomes only the third musher in the history of the Iditarod to win the race three consecutive times.  (Doug Swingley and the late Susan Butcher also accomplished this feat.)  He comes from a family of mushers; both his father and half-brother have also won the Iditarod.

Sixty-seven dogsled teams participated in this year's Iditarod; 10 have either withdrawn or been scratched since the race began about a week and a half ago. 

Three dogs died during the race's running, including a member of musher Jeff Holt's team and two from musher Lou Packer's team.  No official causes of death for the three dogs have been determined, although hypothermia hasn't been ruled out. 

"I felt his shoulder for hydration, and ice crystals in the skin is what I felt," Packer told the Anchorage Daily News about the death of one of his dogs, Dizzy, on the trail between the checkpoints of Iditarod and Shageluk.  "I think those two guys probably froze to death in the high winds.... I didn't think it possible." 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Lance Mackey drives his team up the finish chute in Nome.  Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press.

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