Iditarod Nation mourns the loss of Rick Mackey



The Iditarod Trail Committee regrets to share the passing of Iditarod veteran Rick Mackey earlier this week after his almost two year battle with cancer. Mackey participated in The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across four decades, competing a total of 22 races and finishing 20. His impressive record includes 12 Top 10 Finishes and an Iditarod victory in 1983.

The Mackey family holds legendary status in the realm of Alaska mushing and The Iditarod. Rick’s father, Dick Mackey, co-founded the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and clinched a narrow victory in 1978, besting Rick Swenson by a mere one-second margin. Rick’s brother, Lance Mackey, a four-time Iditarod champion, also left an indelible mark on the race. Rick has two other brothers, Jason and Bill Mackey.  Jason has competed in The Iditarod 9 times and Bill finished the race in 1984, making Dick, Rick & Bill the first father and two sons to finish The Iditarod.  Remarkably, Dick, Rick and Lance achieved the only Father and two sons who have all won The Last Great Race on Earth®, securing the Mackey legacy within the sport and the history of The Iditarod.  Rick himself competed in The Iditarod from 1975 to 2004, amassing a plethora of accolades throughout his remarkable and long-running mushing career.


“Even after competing in the Iditarod, Rick was there for me,” says Race Director Mark Nordman.  “Three times the race has started in Fairbanks and Rick was always my contact in Nenana; always willing to help with a great big smile on his face.  He was a true dog man and we will all miss him!”


“He is one of the select few mushers that has won both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. Training and racing with Rick for years, he was a person who always had a great attitude on the trail.  One of the best. He laughed at bad situations and always made the best of it.  He was a fiercest competitor but friendly to everyone on the trail.  Rick was a master of accessing situations during a race and adjusting to the trail conditions and competition.  He loved sled dogs and you could always learn something about them just by being around Rick, if you were wise enough to listen,” said Bruce Lee, Iditarod Finisher and Iditarod Insider.


“Rick and his family have been my family since 1991.  Rick was the kinda man you could always depend on; there wasn’t a selfish bone in his body and was always a joy to be around.  He didn’t do something for you because he thought he’d get it back from you later, he did it because that’s the kind of man he was, and his family is the same.  I feel very blessed to have had him for a friend in my life for 33 years; he will be missed by anyone who ever met him.”  says Tony Browning, long-time Iditarod supporter and friend of the Mackey Family.

We would like to share our condolences to the Mackey family and all of Rick’s friends and colleagues and to the mushing community as a whole.