A demoralized and disappointed Lance Mackey pulled his dog team into Dawson City Thursday morning and voluntarily scratched from the Yukon Quest.
Some of Mackey’s dogs stopped eating and drinking early in the race, forcing him to drop four of them in Carmacks – the race’s second checkpoint. Over the past two seasons Mackey has been working with a new group of dogs, but he can’t explain why the team has had so many issues.
“I pride myself on the way they look,” Mackey said. “So if they don’t look to me like I want them to look, I’m gonna leave them and dammit, leaving four at a time is a hard thing to do but it was the best thing. I wish I had the answers.”
Mackey says it’s only the fourth time in his career that he has scratched from a race. He has no plans to retire from mushing, but says it could be a while before he signs up for another Quest.
“I can only get beat down so many times before I gotta take a little breather here,” he said.
Mackey has run the Quest six times, winning it four times.
He plans to enjoy a little respite in Dawson City, before he heads back to Fairbanks to regroup and get his team ready for the Iditarod next month.