lance mackey dogs via http://twitpic.com/190zq5

Lance Mackey Makes History, Wins Record Fourth-Consecutive Iditarod

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Lance Mackey Wins Record Fourth-Straight Iditarod

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.

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Lance Mackey Storms Through Elim Checkpoint, Extends Iditarod Race Lead

Lance Mackey flew into the Elim checkpoint Monday afternoon, and just as quickly, he was gone again, extending his lead to more than three hours in the 2010 Iditarod over four-time champion Jeff King, who dropped to third.

Mackey stayed only 15 minutes, just enough time to feed his dogs, before heading out to White Mountain, where the windchill is currently -26 degrees.

Mackey, who is often talkative at checkpoints, had little to say to reporters. He signed someone's hat, shooed away a kid who stepped through his team, and sipped coffee from a foam cup (instant Starbucks with cream and sugar provided by one of the checkers; they said they're prepared to provide the same service to other mushers who come through).

Once King arrived to Elim, he all but conceded the race to Mackey, saying he wouldn't be able to catch him unless he made a mistake. "We'll see if he steps on his cape or somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down."

King added, "I won't -- I can't --do what he's doing."

"We have 24 hours to go. We'll see if he steps on his cape or if somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down," King said.

Mackey_ice_3_medium

via www.alaskadispatch.com

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Sebastian Schnuelle Leads Three Mushers Into Nikolai Checkpoint

German Sebastian Schnuelle retook the lead of the 2010 Iditarod somewhere between the checkpoints of Rohn and Nikolai early Tuesday morning, and was the first musher to reach Nikolai, a town of roughly just 100 people.

Schnuelle, 2009's runner-up, checked in at 1:47 p.m. ET with all 16 dogs, and was closely followed by 2004 winner Mitch Seavey (37 minutes behind) and four-time champion Jeff King (65 minutes back).

All three made speedy work of the Burn, which snowmachiners and race watchers had worried would challenge teams because of a lack of snow in some sections.

But King made the 80-mile run in eight hours, 27 minutes -- averaging nearly 9 mph on trail that got a dusting of light snow overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Seavey was slightly slower, while Schnuelle was 1 1/2 mph slower but may have stopped to rest his full team of 16 dogs en route.

Another group of eight mushers checked-in within an hour of each other, beginning with John Baker, just six minutes behind King. The winner of the past three races, Lance Mackey, checked in at 3:30 p.m. ET in eighth place, moving up eight spots during the run through Farewell Burn.

Of note: the current windchill in Nikolai is -21. Fun times. And this is still considered one of the more enjoyable stops on the route, because it offers the mushers a chance to rest ... on the comfort of high school wrestling mats.

Traditionally, mushers rest here about 6 hours, taking advantage of good food and comfortable wrestling mats set up in the public school gymnasium. But Mackey and others have broken that pattern in the last couple of years, taking off after four hours, or less. Schnuelle hinted he might do something like that while he massaged ointment into a few of his dogs' shoulders.

Next up is a boring 54-mile stretch to McGrath, which is best attacked at night, when the dogs will run faster.

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