After a short break, four-time Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey is hitting the trail once again.
The Fairbanks musher announced Monday onFacebook that he would be signing up for the 2015 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Race Executive Director Marti Steury said Mackey would take over for Jimmy Lebling, who had previously signed up to race for Mackey’s kennel but was unable to compete after a sponsorship fell through.
Mackey is four-time champion of both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He is the only musher to have won both races in the same year, with dual wins in both 2007 and 2008.
Mackey tallied his four wins over the course of seven Yukon Quest bids, along with one runner-up finish and a third-place showing in 2012. But on his last attempt to run the race in 2013, Mackey struggled to reach the halfway point of Dawson City, where he later scratched. The following year he stayed on the sidelines for both the Quest and the Iditarod. This year he is signed up to race both.
“It will be fun being out there with (mushers) Jeff (King), Brent (Sass), Hugh (Neff) and (Allen Moore) and all the other great teams I hope to keep up with!” Mackey wrote on Facebook. He did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.
Mackey is the fourth former Yukon Quest champion to sign up for the 2015 race. Also returning is 2012 champion Hugh Neff, two-time defending champ Allen Moore and 1989 champion Jeff King, who despite four Iditarod wins hasn’t come back to run the Quest since 1990.
The 1,000-mile race is set to begin Feb. 7 in Whitehorse, Yukon. As of Monday, 28 mushers had registered for the race. Sign-ups end Friday.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Profile – Dog mushing in Inuvik, Canada, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Norwegian contingent prepared for Iditarod challenge, Alaska Public Radio Network
United States: To SPOT or not to SPOT? Iditarod mushers and race officials question use of safety features in this year’s race, Alaska Dispatch