Lance Mackey took first place on Sunday in the inaugural running of the Top of the World 350 race from Eagle to Tok. Following Lance in for second place was Gerry Willomitzer. Jake Berkowitz took third.
22 mushers made a memorial run from Tok to Eagle starting on the 27th and then they raced from Eagle back to Tok. The memorial run and race was held to honor the late traditional chief Issac Juneby who died last summer and was from Eagle.
Race manager Jody Juneby Potts is Issac’s niece. She says the night before her uncle Issac died last summer, he talked to her about the importance of the tradition of dog handling.
“He and my mom, just like I was, grew up on a dog sled out on the country in the upper Yukon, 40 mile area and the night before Issac died, we were sitting around in the hospital. He talked to me a lot about mushing and growing up running dogs with him family and what that meant and how it’s important to our culture to hold on to that. There’s a lot of kids today that don’t know what it’s like to go travel by dog team from cabin to cabin and be out there in the country.”
Mackey said the last couple race seasons hadn’t been very stellar for him so it was great to start this season off with a positive finish.
“Snow was as perfect as you can get for as many options and varieties of terrain we had to deal with, you know, three passes. A little bit of wind but the trail overall was really nice. The race layout was exceptionally nice.”
Mackey says he will be running both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod this year, calling the Iditarod the Super Bowl of dog racing.
“I love the Yukon Quest and the format and the terrain and all that stuff but unfortunately it doesn’t have the finances like the Iditarod, so you know , this is our job and I feel that I have to take the work while it’s available, whether it’s two weeks apart or two months apart, so, I’m down, I’m going again and we’ll reassess what happens at the end of this season for next year.”
The top three finishers will receive hand-made Athabascan beaded artwork and winter gear. A banquet will be held this evening at the Tok Dog musher’s association hall.
Listen to the full story