The Lance Mackey Story
a review by Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park
The Lance Mackey Story
My favorite book about mushing is One Second to Glory. It is written by Dick Mackey, Lance Mackey’s father and not really about mushing. It focuses more on the life of an adventurous entrepreneur. Lance’s book is much more focused on mushing. It was written at a much earlier point in his life compared to his father’s book, so we don’t have all of the post mushing life experiences to draw from yet like we do in Dick’s book.
An avid follower of Lance or the Iditarod will know about most of the topics covered in the book, such as his battle with cancer, Angel in the hospital, his Yukon Quest success followed by his historic Yukon Quest - Iditarod double wins and continued Iditarod success. Lance tells those stories in his own words, and the reader gains perspective on the difficulty of those achievements as well as the thoughts and emotions he experienced in order to make his choices.
As a dog driver myself, one of the most interesting parts in the book deals with his training methods. Because of Lance’s physical limitations during recovery and beyond, he needs a relaxed team that responds well to commands. A typical team of out of control huskies that pulls fast and barely listens to commands is dangerous for Lance (most people, really) to drive. When Lance tells his team to stop, he needs them to stop as opposed to continue to drag him down the trail with Lance driving the brake into the trail until it catches on something more firm. The way Lance describes the process of getting a team to behave the way he needs it to is fascinating.
Another method I found interesting was the unpredictable way in which he hooks his dogs up. He’ll start runs at any time of the day or night and he’ll rest for an unpredictable amount of time. In our line of work I strive for a predictable schedule: starting each day at the same time, going for runs at the same time, feeding at the same time, etc. It would actually be difficult and disruptive for us to introduce that much unpredictability into our day. We may try something like it the summer maybe.
Lance is the only musher to win the Iditarod four years in a row. Most mushers will never come close to winning once. Again, Lance won four it a row. Absolutely amazing. The book was written after he won his third, so there is nothing about the historic fourth win, his subsequent descent from the winner’s circle to finishes in the 20’s. I would like to know about these topics as well as what happened around his break from Braxton and Tonya.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who follows the Iditarod, people dealing with cancer or any other physical limitation, dog lovers and people who may find themselves at a low point in their lives.