Congratulations Lance Mackey and Comeback Kennel on the 4th Straight Iditarod Win!

Lance Mackey. Photo from Wikipedia.

Lance Mackey and his incredible dogs did the impossible, yet again. This time it was win 4 straight Iditarods in a row. Susan Butcher, Doug Swingley and Lance Mackey are the only mushers to have won three in row. And now someone, the unstoppable Lance Mackey, has become the first musher to win four Iditarods in a row. The amazing thing is that this is just a feather in Lance’s cap. Those of us who follow the mushing world are maybe becoming a little used to seeing Lance Mackey do the amazing and what was thought to be impossible.

First in 2007 with a win in the 1,000+ mile race the Yukon Quest and then 2 weeks later, with THE SAME DOG TEAM, a win of the 1,000+ mile Iditarod. It was said that a musher could not win the Yukon Quest AND the Iditarod in the same year; it was impossible, it just was physically impossible, no one would even try it. Well Lance Mackey blew that notion out of the water. They said it was a fluke. So Lance Mackey came back in 2008 and did it again, winning both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod again back to back with the same dog team. His buddy and lead dog Larry winning two Golden Harnesses. (Larry is the winning-est dog in mushing history, has his own fan club and it was common on the Iditrod trail to hear his name chanted by fans as he led Mackey’s team into checkpoints) Now Lance was bordering on the title of The Great. And he was far from over showing us to how do the impossible. In 2009, Lance ran away with the race winning hours ahead of the nearest competitor with 15 strong, healthy, enthused dogs crossing the finish line (another feat unto itself, it’s a rarity and quite an accomplishment to finish the race with 15 dogs). That year Lance went on to also win the Humanitarian award for those 15 healthy, happy dogs crossing the finish line, an award that Lance is very, very proud of. It must be noted that this race saw 50 mph winds, terrible blizzards, -50 below temps and horrendous conditions, making what he did (getting 15 strong dogs to Nome) an even bigger accomplishment. Only two other mushers in the history of the sport had won 3 Iditarods in a row, now Lance was number 3.

And if that wasn’t enough, Lance came back to the Iditarod this year to make another statement – winning 4 Iditarods in a row, and this time without his main lead dog, Larry. People

Lance Mackey winning his 3rd straight Iditarod. 2009. Larry is in lead. Photo courtesy off the LA Times.

doubted. People thought Lance couldn’t do it because he had won all his previous races with Larry on the team and either leading most or part of the races. But, Lance just proved again why he is one of the greatest mushers this sport has seen and may ever see. He won number 4, IN A ROW! The 2010 Iditarod champion. He showed that it wasn’t just a great lead dog (though Larry is definitely one of the greatest), but Lance has skill, talent, tenacity, smarts, an incredible bond with his team, and that Mackey magic.

But that’s not all this man has accomplished. He survived a horrible throat cancer that he was told he would not survive. After being diagnosed in 2001, and nearly losing his life (though he did lose his saliva glands, index finger and is still suffering medical problems from the cancer), he came back in 2002 to run the race with a feeding tube and still undergoing chemotherapy. He took the next year off, then came back the following year to run the Iditarod. He ran a few Iditarods, then in 2007 began conquering the impossible.

Lance you are truly one of the toughest humans alive. But it’s not just all these feats and accomplishments that make him so amazing; it’s his big heart, his positive attitude in the face of adversity and his incredible bond and love for his dogs. While watching Lance on the trail it becomes quickly apparent that he is one with the dogs, the dogs who are his buds and best friends.

Lance Mackey getting a kiss from Larry after winning his first Iditarod in 2007. Photo from CBS News/AP.

Congratulations Lance on number 4! You earned it and your dogs looked amazing (and that they were having the best time out there)! This writer is hoping to see you in the Iditarod again next year and will be rooting for you all the way to hopefully a 5th consecutive win!

To find out more about Lance Mackey, Larry and the entire Comeback Kennel check out his website: http://www.mackeyscomebackkennel.com/

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~ by Genevieve Hathaway on March 17, 2010.

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