Lance Mackey is in a fine position to win the Iditarod for a fifth time, but not without a strong push. Entering the small village of Nikolai, Mackey was behind Aaron Burmeister by 41 minutes and had one less dog, at 15.
Needless to say, Mackey's going to need quite the push if he wants to get his fifth title under his belt. Just how he gets that push, however, may be a bit unconventional.
Look at it this way. As of now, Mackey's dogs are traveling at the fastest speed out of anyone participating in this year's race. Their speed, per Iditarod.com, is 8.75 miles per hour.
Clearly, Mackey has never heard of the saying "slow and steady wins the race."
Though it may not be obvious now, Mackey is going to tire his dogs out if he keeps pushing them at such a high speed. Look ahead to Burmeister, and his speed is only 7.92 miles per hour.
The man is going almost a full mile per hour slower than Mackey, and finds himself ahead, plus he has all 16 dogs. If you ask me, this approach is superior.
I understand how speed and time are definitely factors in the Iditarod, but does Mackey really need to rely on it so much? He's already behind and down a dog, so why keep up with an approach that could clearly come back to bite him when push comes to shove?
The fact of the matter is that Mackey needs to make a strong push if he wants to win his fifth straight race, but he's not going to make that push unless he changes his approach slightly. This could be tough to do with contenders Ally Zirkle and Paul Gebhardt hot on his tail, but it's a risk he has to take for at least one leg of the race.
Otherwise, Mackey is destined to be shorthanded too soon and in that case, he'll have dug himself into a hole that he may not be able to get out of. Given how five-time champions are looked upon with greater glory than others, it would be wise for him to make his changes now before it is too late.