Teams and tourists return for beautiful, busy day of Iditarod racing at Rainy Pass

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 11:10 AM AKST
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RAINY PASS, Alaska (KTUU) - Under a bright blue sky Monday morning, mushers, dogs and many spectators descended upon the Iditarod checkpoint in Rainy Pass, as the 50th running of the race plugs along and teams look to push toward the front of the pack in their journeys to Nome.

Among those breezing through the checkpoint early on were veteran mushers Jessie Holmes and Brent Sass, as well as five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. Veterans Michelle Phillips and Paige Drobny also spent very little time in the checkpoint, but many others decided to stay at least a bit longer.

Included in those taking a rest break were veterans Jeff Deeter and Richie Diehl, as well as three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey, who said he was erring on the side of caution in Rainy Pass.

“With a team like this, I’d rather err on the side of a bit of extra rest,” Seavey said.

Racers had different takes on the trail leading into the Rainy Pass checkpoint. Martin Massicotte, who — after entering in 2020 — is seeking to finish his first complete run of the Iditarod, simply said the trail was bumpy and called it a “tough run.”

Others, such as Ryan Redington, detailed incidents along the trail. In Redington’s case, it was a moose encounter.

Redington also reflected on the legacy behind Iditarod 50 and his family’s role in that, including the founding of the storied race by his grandfather, Joe Redington, Sr.

“I thought a lot about my grandfather on this run,” Redington said. “I think he’d be proud of how this race is run — probably, mushers, dogs, he’d be very proud of the mushers and the dogs in the race.”

Veteran Dan Kaduce, returning for his fourth Iditarod, said he specifically chose Rainy Pass for a refuel for his team.

“They’ve got that awesome cabin,” Kaduce said. “Hope it’s open and warm right now. You’ve got to be careful not to oversleep when it’s really comfortable, but yeah, it’s a great way to dry out gear and hit the ‘reset’ button.”

Mushers aren’t the only ones who seem to love the Rainy Pass checkpoint. While their dogs take a break, groups of spectators and volunteers made themselves at home. As teams caught up on some rest and relaxation, visitors could pick up snacks, hot cocoa and even freshly-made pulled pork sandwiches outside the Rainy Pass Lodge.

Some made the 50th running of the Iditarod their opportunity to finally see the race in person.

“We’ve always loved dogs, especially huskies,” said Julie Redmond, who was visiting from Michigan with her husband, Pat. “We have followed the Iditarod online throughout the years, came to love it when Susan Butcher was running it.”

The Redmonds, who called the Rainy Pass checkpoint ‘unbelievable,’ went to the ceremonial start and restart, and said they picked Rainy Pass as their stop on the trail.

“It just gets better,” Pat Redmond said. “We get on a plane, get out in this — you can’t explain this. Words almost can’t even express. I’m in awe.”