Jamaican Could Become First Black Musher To Complete Longest Dog Sled Race


An athlete from tropical Jamaica could become the first black musher to complete the world’s longest dog sled race. Later this month, Newton Marshall, 26, will take part in the Iditarod, a 1,150-mile dog-sled race across the icy wilderness of Alaska. The race is hailed as one of the world’s great endurance tests.Marshall’s entrance in the race echoes the success of the Jamaican bobsled team in the 1988 Winter Olympics, which inspired the movie “Cool Runnings.”

But his entry is no joke. Last year he completed the lengthy Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Out of 29 mushers, Marshall finished a respectable 13th.Marshall, who lives in Jamaica’s St. Anne Parish, said he was impatient to begin the Iditarod, which kicks off with a ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday. The competitive race begins on Sunday in Willow, 50 miles to the north.

“I’m kind of getting tired of this waiting, waiting, waiting,” Marshall said. “I really want to get out there.”If he makes it to the finish line, Marshall will become the first black musher to complete the world’s longest sled-dog race, which crosses frozen rivers, dense woods and two mountain ranges, then goes along the dangerous sea ice up the Bering Sea shore, Canadian Press reported. The race’s only other black musher, the late Barry MacAlpine, participated in the inaugural Iditarod in 1973, but did not finish.

To prepare for his run, Marshall has been training this winter with defending Iditarod champion Lance Mackey.It’s a long way from Jamaica, where Marshall grew up in poverty. Marshall had never known the kind of minus double-digit cold he would encounter in the far north, or that there were dogs obsessed with tearing through the snow.



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