Lance Mackey took the red lantern in the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race on Sunday, Jan. 19. The former Iditarod champion was the last to cross the finish line in Bethel at 10:33 p.m., over six hours after he left Tuluksak.
Mackey knew he was in for some trouble before the race began. It started just after he got to town on Monday before the race.
“On Tuesday, three of my dogs were kind of sneezing,” he said. “Turned into a little bit of a cough. Turned into not eating for a couple of days before the start of the race.”
Over the weekend, the virus spread to most of the team. In Tuluksak, the final checkpoint before the Bethel race finish, Mackey said that his goal for the race had changed, and he was no longer aiming for a position in the front of the field of 21 sled dog teams.
“I’m guaranteeing I'm going to finish 21st if I’ve got to camp at the old man’s side outside of Bethel to make sure that happens,” he said.
Mackey left Tuluksak with six dogs at 4:20 p.m. on Jan. 19, and made it to Bethel at 10:33 p.m. with plenty of time to rest before the Mushers Banquet the next evening.