Age: 47 Specs: 5-foot-11, 160 pounds
Home: Lincoln, Montana
THE CASE: Owner, manager, friend, racer, and trainer of the fastest dogs alive, Swingley wears down opponents by charging from the gun; where most mushers cautiously modulate speed throughout a race with a foot brake, Swingley just lets 'em rip, convincing his dogs that long hills are a treat. The former mink rancher, who still trains his dogs in Montana, didn't start racing until he was 36, but he quickly made up for lost time. In his third Iditarod, in 1995, Swingley posted the first sub-ten-day time, thus becoming the first non-Alaskan to win the grueling 1,100-mile marathon. After finishing second in '96 and '97, he reclaimed the crown in 1999 and smoked the pack again in 2000, breaking his '95 record by nearly two hours.
SECOND OPINION: "Every year Doug's won the Iditarod, he's usually stayed one checkpoint ahead of the other mushers," says 1989 winner Joe Runyan. "He pushes it a little bit every year."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: Beginning the 1999 Iditarod by breaking two ribs. "We took a 90-degree corner, and as I went down with the sled my chest was driven into a battery pack," says Swingley. How'd he manage a victory? "A lot of Aleve."
WHAT'S NEXT: Come this March, he'll aim the dogs straight for Nome, Alaska, the Iditarod's finish line, and a possible fourth victory.