Eight teams finish Iditarod

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2001

NOME (AP) -- Eight mushers were in Nome Thursday night, including 1976 Iditarod champion Jerry Riley crossed the finish line at 5:43 p.m. to finish eighth in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Riley was greeted by 1978 Iditarod champion Dick Mackey, whose son Rick Mackey finished earlier today in seventh place. Mackey crossed the finish line at 1 p.m.

Riley has an unusual team of black dogs, many of which are half Irish setter. He said they performed well this year, especially since they were running on an unfamiliar trail. It took Riley 11 days, six hours and 43 minutes to get to Nome.

''Jerry, you done good. Nenana is proud of you,'' Dick Mackey said of his fellow Iditarod champion.

Riley is 65 years old and competed in his 13th Iditarod. He said the weather was pretty bad but to him it was just another Iditarod.

''Oh, I'm so tired,'' he said soon after crossing the finish line.

For finishing eighth, Riley earned $27,238. For finishing first in 1976, he got just $7,200. ''Boy, my wife better smile now,'' he said.

Four-time champion Doug Swingley got about $63,000 and a new pickup truck worth nearly $40,000 for winning this year's 1,100-mile race to Nome early Wednesday.

Willow musher Linwood Fiedler finished second Wednesday just before 3 p.m. Three-time champion Jeff King of Denali Park reach Nome third.

Five-time champion Rick Swenson claimed fourth place in the wee hours Thursday morning. Then came Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof, followed by John Baker of Kotzebue.

Forty-nine mushers were still heading for Nome Thursday night. Of the 68 mushers who signed up, nine had scratched. Another two were withdrawn for having noncompetitive teams.

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