Jamaican dog musher Newton Marshall arrived in Alaska on Sunday to begin a kind of three-month Iditarod boot camp with reigning champ Lance Mackey.
Mackey, who plans to lend Marshall his lead dog from last year's winning team, is a blunt-talking cancer survivor who's won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race three years in a row. Marshall took up the sport on a Caribbean island where it never snows. Singer Jimmy Buffett is his main sponsor.
In other words, Hollywood might as well start casting the movie now.
After training with three-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt last year, Marshall placed 13th of 29 mushers in the 1,000-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. Now it's Mackey's turn as mentor, and his family spent three months building a cabin next to their Fairbanks home, where Marshall will live and train until the Iditarod in March.
"He's going to be doing everything that we do," said Mackey, who is also a four-time Yukon Quest champion.
"From cleaning dog crap to cutting meat. Prepping for the races. Obviously the training part of it. Everything that it takes to make this household run, he's going to be involved in," Mackey said.
Mackey's wife, Tonya, greeted Marshall with a hug at the Anchorage international airport Sunday afternoon as the family prepared to climb into the black Dodge pickup Lance won at the last Iditarod for the hours-long drive back to Fairbanks. Mackey waited at home where he'd been running dogs until about 2 a.m.
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