Iditarod 2008: Mackey Wins!!!

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Lance Mackey made history once again this morning by claiming his second straight Iditarod Championship, arriving in Nome one hour and 19 minutes ahead of his rival Jeff King, who claimed second place. At this time, there are no other mushers into Nome. Mackey completes his “double-double” claiming back to back victories in both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest in the same year. (He’s won the Yukon four years running now.)

Mackey’s win comes in spite of the fact that we’d been hearing that his team was tired and no match for King’s which was well rested and running strong. But according to this story over at the Eye On The Trail Blog, Mackey pulled a fast one on King by sneaking out of Elim just as King laid down for a nap. From there, Mackey ski-poled for six hours to maintain his lead, and in the end, it was enough to see him all the way to Nome, and his second Iditarod win.

As of now, the race is for third place. The current leaderboard has Ramey Smyth running third, with Ken Anderson in fourth, and Martin Buser holding down the fifth spot. We should see quite a few mushers arrive in Nome throughout the day today, as the 2008 race comes to an end.

I want to extend a hearty congratulations to both Lance Mackey and Jeff King. Both men ran a great race, and Mackey pulled out all the stops to get to Nome first, but the competition, strategy, and gamesmanship between these two Iditarod champions shows why this is still The Last Great Race. Hopefully, both Lance and Jeff, along with all their pups are getting some much deserved sleep right about now.

Kraig Becker

9 thoughts on “Iditarod 2008: Mackey Wins!!!”

  1. For what stretch of time or intervals do the dogs run and pull? And do they stop for water and food? Or do they just eat 1 big meal at the end of the day?

    Any links or stories on these dogs? Just wondering.

  2. There are mandatory rest stops for the mushers and the dogs, and the dogs are examined by vets at the checkpoints. Their care is of the utmost importance to the racers, and they ARE NOT abused in any way. I’ve seen mushers drop out of the race when their dogs start to suffer on many occasion, and I’ve also seen them airlift their dogs to safety when one becomes injured.

    If you check out the stories at Iditarod Blogs ( you’ll see profiles of the dogs, and the stories mention the mandatory stops. For instance, both Mackey and King had mandatory 8 hour rests at White Mountain last night.

    The dogs are well cared for and these guys genuinely love them. You’ll see that on the television coverage on Versus network next week as well.

  3. The dogs will run until the musher notices that the team needs a break. Mushers always carry enough water to hydrate the team and always carries a certain amount of food and snacks. This year we notice that the whole field of musgers took a lot of breaks on the trails up until the halfway point due to the very warm weather. Even though the majority of these dogs are the Alaskan Huskiies, compared to the Siberian Huskies, which ran the serum back in 1925, they do get hot very easy when the temps are not at freezing or below freezing. These dogs run very fast and hard the colder it is. The dog’s calorie intake is just as high as expeditions that take place in the artic, 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day depending on the temps. Colder days require more calories. We feed a food the is 32% protien and 22 to 27% fat during racing season and the sign of a healthy dog is when the food is put down during a break or checkpoint when resting, the dog should eat like it was his last meal meaning he or she should dig right in and none left in the bowl. It is just like us, when we are sick, I don’t want to even smell or talk about food.
    A musher must at all times carry a book that has very dog on the line logged in it and information about the dog like eating habits on the trail, does the dog have solid poop or is it very runny(sorry for the bluntness.) At check points, if the musher stays for a break, vets are onhand to check all the dogs over, checking their paws for soreness, hips for soreness, stool samples, color of tongues, check the pupils, ears etc. Now this is not to say dogs don’t get hurt, sore, split paws from running etc, but it is like any athlete that performs, there are problems that do come up. These dogs are seen by a vet more than we ourselves are checked by our own physician. A lot of sled dogs get ulcers as they get older if they race too long due to high stress. So there are things that are caused by racing but, these dogs live for this, a bred for this and live a very good life. There are dogs that race until they are 9 ot 10 and that is awesome.

  4. Thanks for the awesome post Lawrence. That does a great job of filling in some blanks and letting us all know what procedures they mushers adhere to. I’m always bothered by people who say that it is cruel to the dogs, as they clearly have not seen the mushers with their dogs and how much they care for them.

  5. Thanks for the informative piece.

    I’m not one of those dog lovers that says the Iditarod kills dogs, although two die this year.

    I more so wondering what would be a good trail dog (Q.1) and specifically (Q.2) is there a dog that could run a Trail Marathon in the wilderness? (Mild to Warmer climate, that is)

    I was reading posts on this by Trail Runners and I find that runners have posted a max of, say, 18 to 20 miles or 22 miles that any one dog has run.

    But what I also read was that this must be done near stream or rivers so that the dog can drink plenty.

    I came to the conclusion that Trail Runners likely don’t run with dogs as much because of this requirement to care for the animal (Iditarod-ians are not selfish – they rule). Hence, the Trail runner would likely have to pack a meal and water for a dog that would travel the distance of a marathon.

    Why would I want a dog to run a marathon distance? Well, if you’re a Ultra Runner the companionship will be great. Plus, there may be a bit of safety added; reminds me of the Danelle Ballengee story (Cracked pelvis but the dog saved her).

  6. Hmm… that’s a great question. Not sure which breed would be best for distance running. These dogs, mostly huskies, run better in the cold weather. Don’t really like the warm stuff much.

    On the trail you can carry some water for them of course, but probably not enough for them and yourself, so staying close to a stream makes sense.

    In Danelle’s case she was running in cooler temps too, but her dog definitely saved her life. Good to have that kind of companionship.

  7. Adventure J. feel free to use that as a blog topic if it interests you and if you can find a trail runner with a awesome long distance dog.

    Lawrence wrote wonderfully.

    Another interest of mine, not being a huge iditarod fan, was dog/distance stats. So as I see it. (Grains of Salt plz)

    1,049.0 Total miles

    116.6+ mi. per day in 9+ days for Mackey

    25.0 North end checkpoints
    26.0 South end checkpoints

    51.0 Total checkpoints

    20.6 mi. Checkpoint spread in mileage

    Maybe I have it wrong as I took some of this info. from Wiki.

    A final point, I would hypothesize that it’s easier for dogs to run on snow than it is to run up and down rocky trails.

  8. I’d say those numbers look about right to me as well. The course varies a bit each year, but generally runs through similar territory.

    I’d agree with you to a certain extend on running through the snow, as long as their is a clearly defined trail. Ever tried running through deep snow without a trail? Pulling a sled? But usually the trail is fairly easy to follow.

    Last year there were portions, especially on the Southern part of the trail, that were more mud and ice then snow, which made for tough going.

    This actually may make for an interesting blog post. I know everyone likes to take their dogs on an adventure, and I even had video some time back of a dog on the summit of Aconcagua of all places.

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