- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A four-time champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is sitting out this year’s race as he recovers from physical problems related to his cancer.

Lance Mackey, who won the race from 2007-2010, will instead participate in a shorter Anchorage race as he works to get dental implants, he told the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/uzOeNF).

Mackey is a throat cancer survivor and he’s been losing his teeth in the last year, including one that fell out when he ate a piece of fudge during last year’s Iditarod.

Mackey said his last tooth fell out last month.

“Right at this moment, it’s a lot of dental stuff,” he said. “My jawbones are weak. I’m looking at posts and implants but before they can do that, I’ll go six to eight months with no teeth.”

He said he has a set of dentures. “They’re not exactly easy to get used to, but it’s not easy to get used to running around with no teeth, either,” he said.

Mackey said he doesn’t have insurance, and is paying for the expensive dental treatments out of his own pocket.

“I knew last year at the end of the Iditarod that this was coming,” he said. “But at the moment, I have to say I’m on the mend, both mentally and physically. I’ll be fine if it don’t kill me.”

Besides winning the Iditarod for four straight years, the Fairbanks musher also won the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race four times.

He was at the Saturday start of the Yukon Quest in Fairbanks when someone told him hardly anyone had signed up for the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship sled dog race in Anchorage.

The 75-mile Fur Rondy sprint race, which is held Feb. 21-23, is mostly run through urban Anchorage. It is considered the granddaddy of Alaska sled dog racing.

“The Rondy is why the Iditarod and Yukon Quest exist,” he said. “I was born and bred in this state, and it’s one of the races I’ve never done.”

He doesn’t expect to win. He described the team he’ll field as “puppies.”

In fact, he asked to start last so his young team doesn’t get in the way of professional sprint teams.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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