Lance Mackey accomplished what was once thought to be impossible, becoming the first musher ever to win four consecutive Iditarods, pulling into Nome Tuesday afternoon as the winner of the 38th running of The Last Great Race.
The first to cross finish line were Mackey's lead dogs, Rev and Maple (two of his 11 with which he finished), both of whom have done this before, which helped during the final leg.
Dogs that have raced the Iditarod and made it to Nome are invaluable, because they know where the finish line is, and the really want to get there. A veteran leader can, and will, speed the team up to reach the finish line.
As he has does near the end of every win, Mackey stopped before the final victory stretch just outside of Nome, and took time to individually thank all of his dogs.
Mackey, who beat throat cancer in 2001, is now easily considered one of the greatest dog mushers of this era. Just how good is he? Fellow musher Hugh Neff said it best: "He could take your dogs and beat his team with your dogs. That's how good of a musher he is."
Front Street in downtown Nome was crowded, where it was a comfortbale 10 degrees, with people lining the chute on either side leading up to the finish. The celebration is expected to last for some time.
The announcer adds that Mackey is one of the most gregarious and personable mushers ever to run the Iditarod; he's been a fixture at the finish since the age of 2. Given the crowd size, the announcer says, this is going to be "the people's finish" of the Iditarod. Those who want to get a photo, an autograph, a hug, are almost sure to be satisfied.