Wednesday, March 18, 2009

OK, OK, This is the Last Iditarod Post (This year - I can't promise about next year)

You guessed it. The Iditarod has a winner and yes, it's "The Incredible Lance Mackey" again. (See February post "How I Became an Iditarod Fan"). He's accomplished a Three-Peat like only two other mushers have ever done in the 37 year Iditarod history.

Lance won the Iditarod Sled Dog Race today around 11:30 a.m. Alaska time. He was about 7.5 hours ahead of the 2nd place guy. Third has yet to come in and it's a very close race for 4th being fought by about 5 mushers, including a father and son, Mitch and Dallas Seavey. Lance pulled a daring move midway throught the race. His dogs were running strong so he pushed over 100 miles past the favored check point at which most mushers take the mandatory 24 hour rest. He took his 24 at the mining ghost town of Iditarod, the halfway point. He never looked back. He just increased the gap between him and the next pack of mushers. About 55 other mushers will reach Nome in the coming several days.

As he drove his dog team down Front Street in Nome - over 1000 miles away from the starting point of the race - Lance stopped them and changed out his lead dog. Being a sentimental guy, he wanted his long time leader, Larry, to take him across the finish line (or "under the burled arch" per Idita-language). He said he has a great new little leader, a girl named Maple, who led him through some rough miles of this race but he wanted Larry in lead for the finish because Larry has lead him to so many victories in his career. Larry is being retired after this race. He's earned a spot on the couch as Lance likes to say.

When he won, his mom was there at the finish line. His dad was home in Arizona and couldn't make it, but someone soon handed Lance a cell phone. In front of cameras and microphones he talked to his dad, another Iditarod champion. We could hear Lance's side of the conversation. The connection was bad, or was it something else? Dad? Hello? Dad, speak up. What? You can't speak? Are...are you crying? It's OK; I did my crying about 40 miles back.


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