Fairbanks, AK- An early season win for Four-time Yukon Quest and Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey has the Fairbanks musher in good spirits. Mackey says his kennel is once again living up to its name and making a ‘Comeback.’
Lance Mackey is coming off a win at the inaugural Top of the World 350. The race was held last month in memory of late Eagle Chief Isaac Juneby. After an easy run from Tok to Eagle for a commemorative potlatch, teams restarted in the historic town and raced back to Tok. Mackey says his win was timely.
“You know, I’ve had a couple of rough years and I really needed a nice clean run to boost my confidence again.”
Mackey will run a team in the Kuskokwim 300. That race starts in Bethel on January 18th. Two weeks later, he’ll head for Whitehorse to start this year’s Yukon Quest International Sleddog Race for the seventh time.
In 2012, he blamed warm weather, a young, inexperienced team and his own poor decision making on a third place finish. “Well, I’m looking to move up two spots, that’s for sure," he sys of this year's race.
"I had a young team last year and now those dogs are more experienced with some extra racing and confidence on them and with all the personal stuff that was going on in my life I wasn’t really focused, so I feel that’s all not been an issue. I’m not gonna complain if I get beat again, but I won’t have 40 reasons why it happened.”
Mackey has won the Quest four times. He also has his sights set on a fifth win in Alaska’s other thousand -mile race, the Iditarod. “Absolutely, I need a new truck. That’s my goal!" He laughs.
The cancer survivor faces physical challenges other mushers don’t. But he says his health hasn’t gotten him down yet. “I’ll never be back to par 100 percent, but whatever I’m lacking physically, I making up for mentally," says Mackey, "and you know, I don’t know what the future holds. I’m gonna go race the Quest and Iditarod this year, and reassess my life and if I am in it next year, great, if I not, I won’t be completely disappointed, because I do have to think about me.”
Mackey’s sons and a third musher are also running teams from the Comeback Kennel in area mid distance races this year. Mackey is one of 26 mushers who will line up at the start line in Whitehorse for this year’s 30th running of the Yukon Quest.
Watch Lance Mackey's Team head out on the Yukon River from the Circle Checkpoint during the 2012 Yukon Quest: