Iditarod XLVI: Who is Nicolas Petit?

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UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - Iditarod veteran Nicolas Petit, 36, has been near the front of the pack since setting off from Willow Lake Sunday. The musher is one of the top contenders to win Iditarod XLVI as he heads down the trail without a plan.

The French musher had a unique start to his Iditarod career. In 2011, Petit was working as a dog handler for 72-year-old Jim Lanier. The Iditarod veteran, who first raced in 1979, was unable to race after blowing out his hip. Petit stepped up, qualifying to race and finishing the Iditarod in the same season.

Petit credits Lanier with some important mushing lessons. "He said stay away from the back of the pack" as the risk of bacteria and dog fights increased the further back you went.

Petit has finished Iditarod four times in the top ten, including a career high of third place in the 2017.