Passing: Rick Mackey, 71, Iditarod winner from legendary mushing family

Rick Mackey photos from Brenda Mackey's Facebook page.

Legendary dog musher Rick Mackey died in Fairbanks on Monday, after a battle with cancer. He was 71. From the legacy mushing family of Dick Mackey, who first won the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1978, Rick was raised in the world of sled dog racing and won the Iditarod in 1983. Rick’s brother, Lance Mackey, won Iditarod and younger brother Jason Mackey has raced for several years.

Rick’s passing was shared by his daughter, Brenda Mackey, on Facebook. She noted that he died on May 13, and that the number 13 was the bib number that the Mackeys so often drew. Rick wore No. 13 bib in his 1983 Iditarod win.

Rick had been suffering from cancer for the past 19 month and it had spread to his bones and spine; he was in pain for several months, Brenda wrote.

Brenda Mackey’s Facebook announcement of Rick Mackey’s passing.

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race website biography of Rick states:

“Rick Mackey, born in Concord NH on May 1, 1953, came to Alaska in 1959. Helping his father, Dick Mackey, prepare for the first Iditarod race in 1973, Rick has always been a part of the Iditarod and sled dog racing has always been a part of him. 

“Racing dogs since 1964, the 2004 Race will be his 22nd Iditarod Race. Rick won the 1983 Iditarod and has placed in the top ten numerous times. He is known for taking excellent care of his team and having a very strong team of dogs. He has won the award for the fastest time between Safety and Nome five times. 

“There is a time for every season” and this seasoned veteran musher is ready to go. After taking a two-year break from racing the Iditarod he is ready and willing to cross the finish line in Nome. Rick Mackey has been married to Patty for 30 years and is the father of two children, Brenda 25, and Roland 7.

Rick was the owner of a sled dog kennel and worked in lumber when not training with his team or managing the kennel business. Across four decades, he completed 22 races, and is one of six mushers to win both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. He also won two Kuskokwim 300 races.


  1. A piece of Alaska history that will forever be remembered by all that make the TREK to Nome and then some.

  2. He was a very good man and will be missed greatly. I am saddened to have lost a friend. May he find happy trails and good weather.


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