Lance Mackey won his second consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race today, crossing the finish line in Nome, Alaska, after 1,100 miles over 9½ days, the AP reports—despite unseasonably warm weather and occasionally quarrelsome dogs. "I don't know exactly how to explain it," said Mackey, a 37-year-old throat-cancer survivor. "I'm just blessed with an incredible dog team."
"You're a hero, and truly an inspiration to all of us," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the Fairbanks native, who finished about 80 minutes ahead of the runner-up. During the race—which commemorates the 1925 delivery by dog sled of a diphtheria serum to Nome—Mackey was forced to drop his original lead dog, who was injured in a fight with a rival.