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March 12, 2008 1:00 AM

And Then There Were Two

 

As I type this, two men are racing dog sleds in the final leg of Iditarod 36. This last stretch of the race, about 77 miles, takes the teams from Safety to Nome, Alaska.

Four-time winner Jeff King had a 57-minute lead over Lance Mackey, the defending champion, as the two began their final push for the title. (King is best known for inventing things: "Musher Jeff King has developed a new, sit-down sled that some have labeled the Iditarod Barcalounger. King said it helps him get more rest, although he almost lost his team this year when he got to resting so well he went to sleep and fell off. He's since added a seat belt.") They are expected to reach the finish line on Front Street in Nome sometime early Wednesday morning.

If Mackey hopes to catch King, and win the $69,000 and new Dodge Truck, he knows he's gonna have to get a move-on.

"[I]n a time of need I'm a marathoner. But in all reality, I'm a little lazy. I'm going to save every bit of extra energy I can in case I need it on Front Street."

Oh, and don't worry, he's properly nourished.
A half hour before leaving after a mandatory, eight-hour stop here, Mackey wolfed down a cheese sandwich on white bread with lots of ketchup and mayonnaise, then guzzled a blue Powerade.

As this race shapes up for what could be a dramatic ending, it's worth nothing that, oddly enough, Lance Mackey's dad, Dick Mackey, was involved in the closest finish ever in Iditarod history. In 1978, he beat Rick Swenson...by one second.

Imagine being Swenson that year? You spent about two weeks on a dog sled racing across the Alaskan wilderness, for over 1,000 miles, only to lose by one freakin' second.

Anyways, be sure to check back here for the final results once they finish up there.

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