Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lance Mackey Gets Personal with Michigan Mushers, Talks About Life, Moose Hunting and God

Me and Lance

Last Chance Kennel in Mancelona, Michigan

Steady rain couldn’t put a damper on festivities to welcome Lance Mackey, two-time Iditarod and Quest champion in northern Michigan. About 50 mushers from the Great Lakes region listened to Lance’s stories from the trail and beyond, gleaning as much as possible from Mackey - and the insights weren’t just about kennel management and dogs. Mackey discussed how surviving cancer changed his outlooks on life and his relationships with his family and his dogs. He spoke candidly about his struggles with regularly being “poked and prodded” during annual cancer checks, and his wife, Tonya, talked about helping him prepare for races with feeding tubes, speaking about regular doctor visits.

Mackey said when he went in for surgery, his physicians told him to say goodbye to his family. He was motivated to persevere, however, because “I’ve got dogs who want to eat and a family who wants to see me.”

He spoke of his love of his dogs and of life in Alaska. Mackey’s wife, Tonya, heckled from the circle of people listening about his failure to successfully shoot a moose so far during moose hunting season. He replied, “I don’t have time to hunt. I’ve got dogs to train!”

Mackey has a full agenda this fall, with a trip to New York City planned in October for interviews with David Letterman and the Today Show.

Still, talking with Mackey around a fireside, it’s hard not to see the humility and grace of a man who has accomplished so much, and yet, is so down to Earth and has such a reverence for life.

“We are in God’s cathedral right now,” he says, pointing out to the farm and rain falling steadily.

Last Chance Kennel is owned and operated by Russ and Sherry Sutherby. They run a sleddog touring company in Mancelona, Michigan and hosted the event, attended by mushers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. The event’s co-speaker was Tim Riley, Wildlife Biologist and 2009 Iditarod Rookie. For information about Last Chance Kennel, contact the Sutherby’s at 231-881-2688


  1. Read his story on his website and some other online resources. Inspirational.

    Must be amazing to meet him in such an intimate environment.

  2. Do you have any more info about when he will be on Letterman?

  3. He said he will be on Letterman sometime in October.


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