Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mackey wins!

Lance Mackey raced into Nome early this evening, winning his first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

"This is a damn dream that I've been living, you know, dreaming about since I was a little, little boy when my Dad won this race,'' Mackey, 36, told the AP. Mackey crossed under the burled arch in downtown Nome, completing the Iditarod in 9 days, 5 hours, 8 minutes.

Later, the down-to-earth musher - who also became the first racer to win the Yukon Quest race in the same season - planned a little whiskey for his own rest and relaxation and to celebrate the feat with his family, including father, Dick, and brother, Rick, both past Iditarod champions.

Paul Gebhardt, who was third last year, finished second, racing into Nome a few hours behind Mackey.

''You got to admit, he's like the Dale Earnhardt of dog racing," he said of Mackey.

About a thousand fans braved subzero temperature to cheer Mackey to the finish. He lived the moment, slapping high-fives with fans as his dogs led him down the last block, sometimes jumping off the sled and running with them until his family mobbed him at the end.

''Dreams do come true, Mama, they do,'' Mackey said, fighting back tears. ''This is my passion,'' he said, adding he was proud to follow in his father's footsteps and joked about being thankful his father was a musher and not a lawyer.

''It's our lifestyle, it's something we breathe, eat and sleep,'' he said of the Mackey family's love of mushing. ''This is what we do.

Bill Pinkham of Glenwood Springs was running 32nd of out 60 teams still in the race. He had checked in at Shaktoolik today.

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