'Because I can': Recovering from surgery, Lance Mackey throws name in hat for 2019 Iditarod

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Lance Mackey, the four-time Iditarod champion who's taken a hiatus from the famous race over the past few years, is set to attempt the 2019 edition of the Last Great Race. Mackey submitted his official registration application Friday.

"I had to write a bio to turn in," Mackey said in an interview this week. "They said, 'What's your reason for wanting to run the Iditarod?' I had to think.

"I'm going to run the Iditarod in 2019 for the fans, for the sponsors, for the state sport, for the people of the villages," he said, "but more importantly, I'm doing the 2019 Iditarod because I can."

[READ: Lance Mackey withdraws from 2017 Iditarod due to health reasons]

The Iditarod Headquarters building was closed late morning Friday following a massive earthquake in the Anchorage area, but entry was extended for the few people the Iditarod Trail Committee knew were planning on signing up on Friday.

"We're just extending the deadline," said Iditarod Race Director Mark Nordman, "and then we review every entry every year, so we'll be doing that next week."

Joe McAneney, owner of High Expedition in Talkeetna who said he serves as Mackey's agent, planned to submit Mackey's papers at Iditarod Headquarters Friday, but instead went to an official's house to do so. Mackey, he said, remains in Fairbanks and had two knuckles replaced only weeks ago.

"Why he waited so long to decide if he could run the race," McAneney noted.

Well-known for his "Comeback Kennel" and matching life story out of Fairbanks, Mackey - a cancer survivor, son of an Iditarod champion and brother of a fellow Iditarod racer - spent much time over the last few years racing smaller courses in the Lower 48 while also keeping an eye on the famed race.

[READ: 28 mushers sign up to race Iditarod 2019]

When asked last year whether he would be back to race Iditarod, Mackey said he would probably be the first in line to sign up for Iditarod 2019. Instead, he's one of the last, but still early enough to avoid the $4,000 non-refundable fee for late registration.

Keep in mind, all rookie and veteran mushers' qualifications will be reviewed by the Qualifying Review Board, which meets within 30 days of the initial sign-ups and then monthly after that. Mushers are notified of acceptance or rejection.

Nordman said Travis Beals and Sarah Stokey were also expected to register Friday. The rookie meeting scheduled for Saturday is also still on, per Nordman.