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Faces of Alaska: Lance Mackey

January 7, 2011

Where does Lance Mackey get his toughness? Some of it comes from his family, for sure. On Faces of Alaska, Lance talks about his family’s sky-high ambitions and the strong personalities that shaped who he is today. Alaska genealogist Barbara Samuels assisted with family research on this project.

Wednesday at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm on KSKA, join host Kathleen McCoy and Lance Mackey as they talk about his banker grandfather from New Hampshire, why his dad set out for Alaska in the 1950s, his mother’s sprint dog-mushing prowess and her own father’s Alaska gold-mining ambitions. The Mackey family story – one of grit, enterprise and enormous energy – is truly an Alaska story.

Musher, Lance Mackey

  • Only musher to win back-to-back Yukon Quest and Iditarod races (2007 and 2008)
  • Four-time winner of the Yukon Quest (2005 as a rookie; 2006, 2007 and 2008)
  • Four-time winner of the Iditarod (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010)
  • Crown jewel in a family triumvirate of Iditarod winners (Father Dick, 1978 photo finish, and brother Rick, 1983)
  • Grandson of a New Hampshire banker and an Alaska goldminer/pilot
  • Son of an Iditarod co-founder (Dick Mackey) and a sprint-dog racing mother (Kathie Bliss)
  • Throat cancer survivor, successfully overcame substance abuse problems.

Q & A

What did your family give you?

“From my grandparents through to us, I’d say self-sufficiency and independence. This family is very independent. We don’t need each other to do what we need to do. We just do it. We are miners, trappers, pilots, construction workers. I call it Old-School, we’re an old-school family.”

Where did your gambling and risk-taking instincts for the Iditarod come from?

“Just from through out my life, even on fishing boats. Life is too short to be predictable. I don’t ever want to be predictable.”

What’s a favorite family food?

“Mom’s seven-layer cookies.” (Recipe from Kathie Bliss: “The ingredients are graham crackers, sweet milk, butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and walnuts. Bake it in the oven until it all melts together.”

Listen to Lance Mackey talk about his family roots on Faces of Alaska Wednesday January 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm on KSKA, Anchorage.

Find out what’s to come on Faces of Alaska parts 2, 3, and 4 at

Download Audio (MP3)