Musher Details

2025 Iditarod » Mushers » Brenda Mackey

Brenda Mackey

Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska, US


I’m a third generation musher born into the Mackey family the year my grandpa Dick won the
Iditarod by 1 second. I have been running and racing sled dogs since I could walk. My parents,
Rick and Patti Mackey, and I lived in the bush and off the grid for much of my childhood.
Growing up, my dad raced competitively in a 1,000 mile event every year, be it the Iditarod or the
Yukon Quest, for 26 years, winning each of these races, as well many others. This was our
family’s focus and livelihood for many years. My family moved to Nenana, AK, and onto the road
system when I was 12. I developed a passion for breeding dogs when I was 13 and that hasn’t
changed. I love selecting breeding pairs and raising pups to be championship athletes.

I met my husband, Will Rhodes, briefly during the 1998 Yukon Quest where I was a rookie in the 1,000
mile event and he was a handler for another musher. We met again in 2000 while working as
guides and living with dogs on the Mendenhall Glacier. After that summer, Will moved to Alaska
and we started a life together to pursue our dreams. We started our own kennel and bred dogs
together in 2002. We were both going to school, working full time, and our daughter, Isabel, was
a baby. We decided to put our mushing life on hold for a few years. When Isabel was a little
older and we were older and more established, we started breeding our now kennel in 2011,
with several of the dogs we’d bred together in 2002 along with dogs from my parent’s kennel.

Will works full time as a consultant and I manage the kennel. Together we work as partners to
raise, train, and race our dogs out of our kennel- Mackey’s Alaskan Distance Dogs, in Two
Rivers, AK.