Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Congratulations, Lance Mackey!

Early this morning Lance Mackey and his team of Alaskan huskies won the 36th Iditarod, beating out Jeff King's team, due in part to a bit of the gamesmanship I referred to in an earlier post: Mackey decoyed King into taking a break.

Arriving at a checkpoint just a few minutes after Mackey, King found his competitor apparently set to stay a while: dogs bedded down on straw, gear unpacked, cooker lit, etc. Seeing that, the exhausted King also settled in and then took a nap. As soon as the snoring started, Mackey quietly departed the checkpoint, gaining about an hour on the eventual second-place finisher. (Satellite tracking, I'm happy to report, wouldn't have helped anyone here.)

I'll remind everyone that this is dogsled racing, not NASCAR. The race may have been won, but it's still far from over. A number of strong teams are still in the hunt for third place, and the race will continue until the last team reaches Nome and claims the Red Lantern. Often the most interesting stories come from the middle or back of the pack, so stay tuned to Eye on the Trail.

By the way, this makes two years in a row that Lance Mackey has won the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod back-to-back. Each race is over a thousand miles. I'd say more, but I'm having difficulty fathoming the accomplishment.

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