Catching up with Lance Mackey

I spoke the other day to 2007-09 Iditarod champ Lance Mackey – dragged him off his Bobcat truck to take the call, in fact. It had been a while since I'd spoken to the iconoclastic musher, so I was eager to hear what he's been up to. Mackey told me he took a bit of time off after his third consecutive Iditarod win with trips to Barbados and Las Vegas -- "nice," he purred in his raspy voice. He went east for a couple of business trips and more recently has been a regular on the local speaking circuit (he hits a lot of summertime state fairs). But for the most part he has stayed close to home to work on his house -- a necessity in the months when the sun rarely sets. “It’s still got Tyvec on the outside,” he said, “but I added a two story addition on the side.”

Mackey's Tyvec-laden House in March

The hardworking/hardscrabble cancer survivor told me that he started gearing up for his 2010 assault on the 1,100 race from Anchorage to Nome a week ago. After a summer of leisure, his superlative line of dogs has been doing their paces with dry runs on wheeled sleds. Snow won’t hit the trails outside his home near Fairbanks till about October. His young male dogs spent the summer in Seward giving rides to tourists, while his older ones “sat around all summer being lazy,” he said.

There will be a new addition to the Mackey household come December. No, not another kid. The 39-year-old Mackey has signed on to work with Newton Marshall, a Jamaican attempting to be the first person from his island nation to complete the “Last Great Race” (Cool Runnings anyone?). Marshall will be the first from ReggaeLand to attempt the race, but despite his rookie status he is not a novice to mushing. Earlier this year he became the first Jamaican to complete the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest, another grueling race.

Nor is Mackey a stranger to sharing some of his training secrets. Last year, he helped train native Alaskan and Army National Guard staff sergeant Harry Alexie for his Iditarod run, which he completed 10 days, 12 hours (finishing 37th out of 51). Mackey said his son, Cain Carter, and his dog handler, Braxton Peterson, will train Marshall’s dogs. He sounded a tad concerned that Marshall was not due to arrive in Alaska until December, “right in the middle of race season.” Coming from the easier climes of the Caribbean nation to frigid tundra will be “culture shock,” predicted Mackey.


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  • 10/7/2009 4:25 PM Dianne wrote:
    This was great! Lance Mackey is great! Right no he and Tonya are in Texas meeting Lance Armstrong for the first time!
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