ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey has reached the Burled Arch in Nome after sitting out two consecutive races, and scratching from his most recent attempt in 2016.
Mackey’s 27th-place finish at 1:41:40 p.m. came just five seconds before Jessie Holmes, last year’s Rookie of the Year, at 1:41:45 p.m.
KNOM radio station interviewed Mackey at the Burled Arch in Nome and has shared that audio with us. Hear Mackey address the crowd and respond to KNOM questions in particular at approximately 4 minutes and 10:30. Visit KNOM.org for the latest KNOM coverage.
Mackey is a cancer survivor who broke records by being the first musher to win the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year, then did it back-to-back, on his way to winning four straight Iditarods, from 2007 to 2010.
His health issues began to plague him, and Raynaud’s Syndrome, fallout from cancer treatment that affects circulation in his hands and brings susceptibility to the cold, has hampered some of his most recent efforts.
In 2016, Mackey scratched from the race at Galena, for his own health concerns. In 2015, two of his dogs died along the trail, of undetermined causes, race officials said, and he completed the race in 43rd place.
Channel 2 talked with Mackey in Unalakleet, where he said this year, he had no doubt he’d make it to Nome, no matter what position.
“I didn’t have any doubt in my mind when I started and I have no doubt now. Unless the river gives way and we get washed out to sea, I’m going to Nome!” Mackey said, getting cheers from the small crowd gathered around as he tended to his team.
Mackey has just six Top-10 finishes in his now-14 finishes – and two scratches. Outside of his victories, in 2005 and 2006, Mackey finished in 7th and 10th places.
This year though, Mackey’s not focused on how many mushers are ahead of or behind him.
“My race has been within myself, and it’s not about a position to me. I said that in the beginning and it hasn’t changed any,” he said in Unalakleet.
“I’m just doing my own thing and I could still potentially be in a position that pays out,” Mackey said. “I’m not paying any attention to it. I don’t care what the run times are, I don’t care who’s resting, I’m running mine. I’m racing my own race.”