Iditarod Scion Finally Wins on 16th Try

Ryan Redington, 40, is grandson of race's co-founder
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 15, 2023 11:48 AM CDT
Grandson of Iditarod's 'Father' Wins It
Rob Urbach, CEO of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, poses in Wasilla, Alaska, next to the trophy that is presented to the winner. The winner of the Iditarod pockets only about $50,000, but the real prize is a bronze statue of race co-founder Joe Redington Sr. embracing a sled dog.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Ryan Redington on Tuesday won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, bringing his six dogs off the Bering Sea ice to the finish line in Nome. Redington, 40, is the grandson of Joe Redington Sr., who helped co-found the arduous race across Alaska that was first held in 1973 and is known as the "Father of the Iditarod." "My grandpa, dad and Uncle Joee are all in the Mushing Hall of Fame. I got big footsteps to follow,” Ryan Redington wrote in his race biography, per the AP. He previously won the Junior Iditarod in 1999 and 2000. His father, Raymie, is a 10-time Iditarod finisher.

Redington won the Iditarod on his 16th try. He scratched from seven of those races, but his performance this decade has been the best of his career. He finished ninth last year, seventh in 2021, and eighth in 2020—his only other top 10 finishes before this year’s race. The nearly 1,000-mile race started March 5 in Willow for 33 mushers, who traveled over two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River, and on the Bering Sea ice. Since then, three mushers scratched. It was the smallest field ever to start a race, one short of the first race run.

Among those who scratched was defending champion Brent Sass, who was leading when he withdrew Saturday over periodontal issues. Sass said he had been sick the entire race with a bad cold. Then on Friday “some cracked teeth started giving me issues and over a 12-hour period turned into nearly unbearable pain," he said. "My body basically shutdown and for two runs I just hung on. Ultimately I couldn’t care for the dogs." He said the colder temperatures, dipping to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, were making his dog team stronger but making him weaker.

Redington, who is Inupiat, becomes the sixth Alaska Native musher to win. He'll earn about $50,000 for winning the race in 8 days, 21 hours, 12 minutes, and 58 seconds. Fellow Alaska Natives finished second and third; Pete Kaiser wrapped up more than an hour behind Redington, and Richie Diehl completed the race about an hour behind Kaiser. (Read more Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race stories.)

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