Former MH resident Swingley 31st in early going at Iditarod

Four-time Iditarod champion Doug Swingley, a former MH resident,

Morgan Hill
– Battling through eyesight problems after freezing his corneas
in last year’s race, four-time Iditarod champion Doug Swingley is
competing against the best dogsledders in the famous Alaskan race
again this year.
Morgan Hill – Battling through eyesight problems after freezing his corneas in last year’s race, four-time Iditarod champion Doug Swingley is competing against the best dogsledders in the famous Alaskan race again this year.

Despite being hampered by poor night vision, the former Morgan Hill resident battled his way to 31st place at the Finger Lake checkpoint.

This year’s Iditarod began on Sunday outside Anchorage and is expected to last 9-to-15 days.

Swingley, who won the race in 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2001, had to have off-season surgery to repair his corneas, damaged during last year’s Iditarod.

During daylight, the 52-year-old Montana-based musher told reporters he’ll do fine. His vision is 20/30 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. Still, he described his night vision as “marginal.”

“It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope. At night it’s sometimes just entertaining. The surface of my corneas isn’t smooth anymore,” he said. Adding, “But all I gotta see is about 60 feet. If I don’t freeze ’em again, I’ll be OK.”

Last year’s injury forced him to “scratch,” or withdraw from the race, the first time he’d done so in 14 years of racing. Swingley came back as determined as ever, and though he is not considered a favorite, his goal is to finish the grueling 1,100-mile event.

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