Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey won’t be mushing his main dog team in this year’s race. In an interview with Iditarod Insider, Mackey says the team he ran in February’s Yukon Quest is “not up to par” for the 2013 Iditarod.
Mackey had a disappointing Quest race this year. After dropping half of his original 14-dog team, he was forced to scratch at the Dawson City checkpoint, only a third of the way down the trail. Mackey will be using only four of those Quest dogs for the Iditarod, the fewest he’s used in years that he has run both races.
The new team is made up of young dogs Mackey was preparing for next year’s Iditarod, as well as dogs that didn’t make the cut for the main team. Mackey likens his predicament to an NFL team going to the Super Bowl without its key players. “My main guys are sitting on the bench,” he says.
Mackey dominated the Iditarod from 2007 through 2010. He is the only musher to win the 1,000-mile race four consecutive times. After his 2010 victory, however, the bottom seemed to fall out of his racing. In the 2011 Iditarod, he came in 16th place. He did even worse in last year’s race, placing 22nd in a field of 52 finishers. With the scratch in this year’s Yukon Quest, Mackey is just looking for a clean race. “I am in the Iditarod,” he says. “I don’t know how much of the racing part of it I’ll be in.”
Speaking of the finish line in Nome, Mackey declares, “I’ll still have a smile on my face when I get there, you know? And I will get there. It just might take me a little while.”