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Lance Mackey on Dogs and a “Perfect Race”

audio by Laureli Kinneen; text by David Dodman; photo by Ben Matheson

Lance Mackey's dog Maple

Maple - Lance Mackey's lead dog and the winner of last year's Golden Harness Award - is caught mid-air before Saturday's ceremonial start. Maple was the first dog to be dropped from Mackey's team (on Monday at Rohn).

Does Lance Mackey – or any of the other mushers in Iditarod 39, for that matter – need a “perfect race” to win this year’s Iditarod? The four-time Iditarod champion doesn’t think so. When he talked to our trail reporter Laureli in Anchorage, Mackey noted that he won last year’s race only after a bit of a rocky start.

Indeed, if Mackey wins this year, it will have been another imperfect race for the musher. One of his goals – to bring a full string of 16 dogs to the Burled Arch in Nome – will go unrealized. He’s already dropped four dogs from his team: three in Nikolai today, and one – lead dog Maple, as seen above – in Rohn yesterday.

Although he’d love to finish first again – “perfect race” or not – Mackey insists that his main goal remains the care of his dog team. In Anchorage, he also talked about the specific dogs on his 2011 team, as well as his appreciation for his fans and supporters:

As of Tuesday morning, Lance Mackey is at the Nikolai checkpoint. He arrived at 8:32am in 5th position. Check back with us shortly for another Mackey interview at Nikolai.