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Musher Lance Mackey leads in the Iditarod; missing sled dog Nigel found

March 16, 2009 |  2:45 pm

Iditarod musher Lance Mackey

Musher Lance Mackey is on track to win his third consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  Mackey is currently leading and the  Anchorage Daily News  reports that, if all goes well, he and his team of 15 dogs could reach the race's endpoint of Nome, Alaska, late Tuesday  night or early Wednesday morning.

Mackey left the checkpoint of Shaktoolik, 171 miles from Nome, at about 5 a.m. local time today.  His closest followers are mushers Sebastian Schnuelle and Jeff King, a four-time Iditarod winner.  Both Schnuelle and King reached Shaktoolik a few hours after Mackey.

Elsewhere on the Iditarod front, the best news we've heard all day is that Nigel, the sled dog who went missing after musher Nancy Yoshida wrecked her sled last week, has been found.  Nigel was apparently spotted from the air; searchers followed him until he arrived at the Talvista fishing lodge, where he was reunited with Yoshida.  From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune::

"She was crying," [Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George] said of Yoshida. "She was so excited. You could tell the two of them missed each other a lot."

Nigel was well-hydrated and was in very good condition, considering he'd been roughing it for three days.

"Nancy fed him right away out there, and he's continued to eat," St. George said. "He's doing fine." Yoshida, 58, of Thompson [N.D.], south of Grand Forks, had told the Anchorage Daily News that her husky "was pretty shook up" by the crash while trying to negotiate a difficult stretch of the route about 200 miles in the 1,100-mile course from Anchorage to Nome.

The lodge where Nigel was found was nearly 100 miles from the part of the trail where he went missing.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Lance Mackey drives his team past fans as he arrives first into the Unalakleet checkpoint Sunday. Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press.
Video: KTUU Anchorage

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