Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dates and links for the 2015-2016 Mushing Season

Dallas Seavey's team during Iditarod 43's ceremonial start in Anchorage, AK.

I've chosen to just link up to the "main races" in Alaska... I feel like I've missed one or two, so if you catch one I've missed please comment below and I will fix that problem!

Solstice 50
December 19, 2015

Website / Facebook

Knik 200

January 2, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Copper Basin 300
January 9, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Kuskokwim 300
January 15, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Gin Gin 200
January 22, 2016
Website / Facebook
Tustumena 200
January 30, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook

Denali Doubles
February 4, 2016
Website / Facebook
Yukon Quest
February 6, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Yukon 300
February 6, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Iditarod 44
March 5, 2016
Website / Twitter / Facebook
Kobuk 440
April 7, 2016
Website / Facebook

I don't know if I will have time to blog about the races this year or not, hope to. Iditarod, at least, will get my attention. Also the T200 - should the snow we have now grows/stays... no more cancellations! We need a real race season!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lance Mackey to run in Iditarod 2016

Four time Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey made headlines yesterday when he announced on Facebook that he will run Iditarod 2016 if he can come up with the money to do so. Mackey is one of the most recognizable names in Iditarod history, as his story of overcoming adversity to win his 4 consecutive Iditarods resonates with people. Lance is part of a mushing dynasty with his father Dick and brother Rick also having won Iditarod titles - and his father was one of the original Iditarod mushers.

Mackey made headlines in the 2015 race when he had one of his worst races in recent memory, he was suffering from severe frostbite to his fingers and two of his dogs passed away on the trail. Lance gave an interview during the race saying he just couldn't do the race anymore. With the help of his brother, Jason, Lance Mackey and team made it to Nome, but everyone expected him to retire.

And retire he had, or so we all thought.

Mackey has been travelling to different film festivals this year, following along with the documentary about his life and racing entitled "The Great Alone." The film has been wildly accepted and won numerous awards, with Mackey making a quick trip to Hollywood earlier this month. It's no doubt that the story is more than one about a musher and dogs, it speaks to people in all walks of life. It's inspirational.

One has to wonder if it isn't what inspired Mackey to not hang it up just yet.

Where MY personal concern is, is Lance Mackey's health. I am not trying to suggest he is ill, or anything like that. I don't have insider knowledge or sources to suggest he isn't healthy. My concern is based solely on how he fared in the race this past March. Mackey was unable to handle the cold temperatures (a record bitter cold of -40+ in some parts of the trail), losing feeling and movement in his fingers meant he was slower to care for his team. Jason, his brother, scrapped his own race plan to run alongside his brother and help him get to Nome.

Mackey losing two dogs suddenly while running the trail caused concern as well. Necropsy reports could not provide a reason for their deaths. It was just quick onset death. This ruled out Lance's issues on the trail as being a factor in the cause of death. Most dog mushers suggested it could've been a defect in whatever line the litter was from. Speculation is all any one can do, the matter is closed, and Mackey - while devastated at the loss - moved on as best he could.

All of this prompted bloggers, fans, media, and other mushers alike to post their support and hope that Mackey would finish what they all declared his final race. Again - Lance himself also said it was most likely this last time he would run.

But I have to think that the documentary's success has Lance thinking differently. I haven't yet seen it, but it's heralded as being uplifting and inspiring. Fans have reached out to the musher all year hoping that he would run again. Lance looks better than he did all of last year leading up to the 2015 race. Things are looking up. That attitude alone no doubt has bolstered his drive to try again. Maybe this will be his final run, and he just wants to go out his way, or maybe that "I can't do it anymore" interview he gave to Iditarod Insider last year was just a man frustrated with how his race was going and he wanted to quit in the moment.

When Lance runs in March, I wish him the best. Hopefully the weather is kinder, and he can finish the race on his terms. But, I do hope that he takes last year's race into consideration when he assesses not only his team of 16 dogs... but of himself.