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Throat cancer survivor wins fourth straight Iditarod

By Tracy Sabo, CNN
Musher Lance Mackey finished the 1,049-mile race in nearly nine days, the second-fastest finish in race history.
Musher Lance Mackey finished the 1,049-mile race in nearly nine days, the second-fastest finish in race history.
  • Musher Lance Mackey rides into record books with fourth straight Iditarod victory
  • Mackey completes 1,049-mile sled dog race in nearly nine days
  • Father is 1978 Iditarod champion Dick Mackey

(CNN) -- Lance Mackey rode into Nome, Alaska, and the record books, becoming the first musher to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race four times in a row.

The 39-year-old throat cancer survivor from Fairbanks completed the 1,049-mile race in 8 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds on Tuesday, the second-fastest finish in race history.

"Even the doctors who said I would never race dogs again doubted what I was able to do," he said. "You know, people are easy to judge and doubt somebody's ability, but the mind is a very powerful thing."

Among the throngs that boisterously cheered as Mackey pulled up to the burled arch on Nome's Front Street was his father, Dick Mackey, the 1978 Iditarod champion.

"You've done something that will never be repeated, son," the senior Mackey said as he greeted his son with a hug.

"I told my Dad I think I got one more in me, though," the younger Mackey said later.

Mackey has dominated the sport in recent years and is the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Iditarod champion.

He was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in February "for capturing multiple titles in two of the world's longest sled dog races."

Mackey is also a four-time champion of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest race from Fairbanks to Nome, as well as the record-holder for the most (four) consecutive first place finishes in that race.

On Tuesday, Mackey took home $50,000 and a new truck.

"I said before this race even started that I had seven dogs in this team that would go to the end of the Earth for me and nine more that was willing to try," he said. "It doesn't matter where I place, you know.

"I got the relationship with the team, and that is more rewarding than any truck I win and the position I come in in. ... But, as I say that, I'm looking forward to choosing another color for a truck."

Yukon musher Hans Gatt came in second. Past champion musher Jeff King placed third.

King, from Denali, Alaska, earned the praise and gratitude of the Iditarod Trail Committee earlier this season, when he donated $50,000 toward the Iditarod prize purse after learning that the race lacked enough sponsors.

More than 54 teams remained on the Iditarod trail headed toward Nome, including rookie Jamaican musher Newton Marshall, who was in 48th place.

Marshall trained with Mackey this season to prepare for his first Iditarod run.

Fourteen of the original 71 teams that entered this year's race scratched en route.

A red lantern is presented to the last-place finisher in the race, an Alaska tradition dating to 1953.