But mushing is in the blood for those with the last name Mackey; Lance's father Dick Mackey won the 1978 Iditarod. His brother Rick won in 1983.
In 2005 it was Lance's turn to elevate his mushing profile, not in the Iditarod, but in the Yukon Quest. Mackey held off William Kleedehn for his first win in a 1,000-mile sled dog race.
"It's probably going to be the highlight of my mushing career for a long time," Mackey said.
In 2006 he would defend his Quest title, though a navigation error almost cost him.
"Soon as I figured or found out I'd taken the wrong trail, which was pretty obvious after I seen it, I don't know, I just wanted to cry like a little baby. I knew for sure I'd just blown it. Worked out pretty good, looks like," Mackey said.
But 2007 was the year that changed everything. Mackey, coming off his third-straight Quest crown, was at the front of the pack late into the Iditarod, and he was doing it largely with the same team.
"I'm not saying he's going to win, but just to be here with dogs that won the Quest two weeks ago, I'd have said that's impossible -- and I'd have been wrong," said rival musher Jeff King.
Mackey made history, becoming the first musher ever to win both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year, giving birth to the Mackey miracle.
"So, basically, what it was was one long training run and put them in the perfect shape and mindset to come here and do what we just did," Mackey said.
In 2008 he would repeat that historic feat, winning Quest No. 4, and then in the Iditarod using a little gamesmanship to defend his title.
"I'm going to try and catch him with his pants down," Mackey said.
Leading four-time champion King by just three minutes into Elim, Lance pulled off the Mackey Maneuver, making it appear to King that he would rest at the check point before sneaking out after the veteran nodded off. Mackey gained 50 minutes on King and effectively put the race to bed.
"I didn't know at all if it was going to work, but it obviously worked – and I don't think he'll ever forget it. I know I won't," Mackey??? said.
In 2009 Mackey would drop the Yukon Quest and in the Iditarod he would drop the rest of the field, no need for maneuvers, no need for miracles.
With 15 dogs on the line, Mackey would cruise down Front Street for a third-straight line, winning by almost eight hours and joining Susan Butcher and Doug Swingley as the only mushers ever to win three straight Iditarod titles.
"We've earned it," Mackey said. "It wasn't given to us."
Contact Charlie Sokaitis at firstname.lastname@example.org