Billed as 'The Last Great Race on Earth', the Iditarod Trail is the toughest dog sled race in the world. Snaking through over a thousand miles of the Arctic's harshest wilderness, the race is one of Alaska's proudest traditions and Lance Mackey is its greatest champion. He's a man with dog sled racing hard wired into his family, across generations. And he's a man who has battled homelessness, addiction and cancer, but who has always returned to the sled.
Lance Mackey is a leader, not just of men, but of man's best friend: His dogs. The life bestowed on Lance did not come easy, and he's worked for every inch of snow he has ever traveled. The four-time winner of both the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and Yukon Quest has molded himself into a legendary dog musher. Lance Mackey is many things, but above all else he's a survivor.
The Great Alone tells the story of Lance Mackey, an Alaskan dog musher born into an elite dog mushing family. His father, Dick Mackey, is a founding member and winner of the 1978 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Five years later, in 1983, Lance's brother Rick crossed the finish line in first place. Lance would have his turn beginning in 2007, and he would continue winning for three more years. In 2008 Lance became the first person ever to win not only the Iditarod, but Yukon Quest as well in the same year, a feat previously not thought to be possible. He would prove everyone wrong by doing it again in 2008.
The victories accomplished were accompanied with great personal hardship. Diagnosed with cancer, Lance would spend a great deal of time and energy fighting the disease, conquering it only after radiation and surgery, which left his throat vulnerable to injury. He was advised by medical professionals to never race again, advice he refused to follow, and was quickly back on the sled.
The Great Alone follows Lance on his 2007 and 2008 Iditarod victories. It highlights his deep bond with his dogs, the life he had before racing, and some of the personal issues within his family. The Great Alone does a fantastic job at shedding light on a sport few get the chance to truly be immersed in and what it means for not only the racers, but the Alaskan community as well.
If you enjoy documentaries about dogs, sporting events, athletes, the wilderness, self-reliance, or simply would like to see a truly inspiring story, this documentary is all of those things. I personally have a great respect for Lance Mackey, not only for what he's accomplished, but how he accomplished it as well. He never seemed to lose focus on his love for his dogs or why he began racing to begin with. The cinematography is excellent and Lance's story is very well told. I was left feeling inspired and hope to someday see a sled-dog race in person.
Lance Mackey is many things, but above all else he's a survivor.
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