With the 2008 Iditarod just days away, IdtarodBlogs.com is reporting that Mushing Legend Doug Swingley has retired from “The Last Great Race”. The Lincoln, Montana native hasn’t given up the sport altogether however, he has just chosen to focus on stage races rather than the grueling, non-stop events like the Yukon Quest or the Iditarod. He says he’ll also continue to breed and raise dogs for the iconic Alaskan event.
Swingley is indeed one of the giants of the sport. After taking up mushing back in 1988, he won his first Iditarod in 1995. Winning one race is enough to cement your place in Iditarod history, but Swingley wasn’t content with just adding his name to the list of winners. To be a Legend you need to go beyond that, and from 1999 to 2001, that exactly what he did. Swingley completed the hat trick and won three straight Iditarods, considered by many to be the toughest race on Earth.
Aside from his four wins, Swingley further entered Iditarod lore with his reputation as one of the fiercest competitors on the course and his ability to perceiver through the pain and suffering that is part of the event. Last year he broke his ribs on the way through Rainy Pass, but continued to race on, as he had suffered a similar injury during one of this victorious runs. Back in 2004 he was forced to abandon the race when the severe cold frosted his corneas, threatening his eye site.
Swingley was one of my favorite competitors in the Iditarod. His style was to go out fast and take command of the race, and his hard charging style was abrasive to some of the other racers, but he also earned their respect. This years Iditarod will not be the same without him, and he will be missed.