The day before the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, veteran Lance Mackey was a couple of streets away from the starting line at 6th Avenue Outfitters meeting fans and talking mushing.

Rookie musher Blair Braverman, who hosted the event, got a chance to ask Mackey if he had any advice for her while on the trail.

"I guarantee you, Blair, this race is going to change you, you know? It changes all of us in a way that's addicting," Mackey responded.

Mackey grew up in a mushing family. His father Dick won the Iditarod in 1978, and it was around that time Lance first remembers being on a sled.

He told the crowd he went out with his dad to get a Christmas tree, and the dogs took off with Lance in the sled. When he managed to climb onto the runners and stop the sled, his father caught up with the team.

The one thing the elder Mackey said to the emerging musher was, "Don't tell your mother."

Mackey has had his share of physical challenges, from throat cancer to losing a finger to starting a recent sprint race by falling face-down. He hasn't run the Iditarod since 2016.

"The team is there; the driver is a little beat-up," Mackey said. "I know what it takes to win the Iditarod, and I don't know that I have those physical abilities at the moment."

Mackey said what he doesn't have physically, however, he makes up for mentally.

"You don't have to win to be successful, right?" he said. "It's a very nice bonus though."

He says the position he finishes in is irrelevant, but there will be times on the trail when the competitor in him will come out.

This will be Mackey's 15th Iditarod. His bib number is 44.

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