ANCHORAGE, AK (CNN) – He’s a four-time champion of the Iditarod … The rugged sled-dog race playing-out now in Alaska.
Cripple is around the halfway point of the Iditarod.
Lance Mackey rests there, close to the top of the pack.
“I’m just having a good time with my dogs,” Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey says.
He’s just come from Ophir and an emotional ceremony to honor his mother Kathy, who passed away last April.
“I know she heard me,” Mackey says.
Spreading part of her ashes …
” thanked her for being so stern,” he says. “I thanked her for being forgiving. And … I just thanked her for being my mom.”
Mackey carries mementos around his neck, including the remains of his beloved leader Larry, and his mother’s wedding ring.
“I got beautiful leaders, but Larry is my leader, I’ll ask him for guidance until I run out of trail, and this is my mom’s … Mother’s ring,” he says. “They’ll be buried with me.”
Mackey has had a long list of struggles for years.
His relationship with his mother was essential.
“My mom was always there, even when she wasn’t there,” he says.
He says he’s found a whole new sensitive side – a change he puts down to his mom and two young kids.
“I couldn’t be more satisfied right now,” he says.
He says his mom was always humble and never wanted recognition.
Now, she’s traveling with her son.
“I felt her tap me on the shoulder … Heard her voice, I thought she was standing right beside me,” he says. “I’m happy to have her along for the ride.”