Four Time Iditarod Champ Swingley Retires

With the 2008 Iditarod just days away, 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.

Kraig Becker

9 thoughts on “Four Time Iditarod Champ Swingley Retires”

  1. Doug will definately be missed by Jeff King, Buser, Gephardt and others. He is a true athlete and very intelligent. Also quite cocky. Him and Jeff have went at it several times verbally. There are several that are really glad to see him go.
    I am getting an opportunity to lead sleddog tours on Norris Glacier just outside Juneae Alaska and we are leasing some of his dogs so I will get to see him in April.
    Over 200 dogs on a glacier for 5 months, May – Sept. Should be an awesome time especially taking a bath out of a bucket of warm water every night:)

  2. Yep, Doug definitely is a bit on the cocky side and rubbed some of the other mushers the wrong way, but I kind of like that about him. Especially since he could go out and back it up. You don’t get to be a four time champ without having a little chip on your shoulder. 🙂

  3. Oh I hear ya. I kinda like it because it does bring a little drama to the race other than the usual mushers getting lost, broken bones and the question that is asked at every check point,” when did King, Mackey, Swenson, Buser and Gehphardt leave the check point?” Would like to see Mackey win it this year again to show that winning the Quest and the Iditarod was not a fluke.

  4. I was so glad for Mackey when he won last year. The guy has been one of the top mushers for awhile, but he didn’t get the recognition he deserved because he hasn’t won the Iditrod yet. Now he’s claimed 4 Yukon Quests in a row and has that Iditarod on his resume too.

    Now we’ll see if he can repeat. He’s certainly got the skills, but he’s sometimes had bad luck.

  5. I have watched Doug over the years, and I honestly feel like it’s the Alaskans that chose to be rubbed the wrong way…afterall, they don’t want someone from the lower 48 coming up there and showing them how a race is to be run…..and that’s just what Doug did! We’ll miss you Doug!

  6. You’re probably more right than you know. They certainly don’t like outsiders coming up to win their race, much like the French hating Lance winning the Tour.

    This year’s event has been fun to watch, but it does indeed miss something without Doug in the race. He’s missed here too.

  7. Hey Doug! you were one of the most Iditarod musher that is awsome. I can’t believe that you retired? you were one of my inspired musher who pushes to the end, or what ever it takes to finish something. oh well you did what you have to do in life. Thanks again for the action from one of your checkpoints Nikolai. 🙂

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