2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Live Blog
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Last Great Race kicked off in Downtown Anchorage on March 4 and ended almost 1,000 miles later in Nome on March 17.
Ryan Redington claimed victory Tuesday afternoon in a celebratory finish, becoming the first in his famous family to win the Iditarod. Read the full story here.
March 18 - 2:20 p.m.
Iditarod 2023 prize totals announced by final race position
The Iditarod Trail Committee announced the final prize amounts by position for the finishers of Iditarod 2023. Ryan Redington won the 51st Iditarod and takes home $51,800 in prize money. Second-place finisher Pete Kaiser will take home $43,700 and Richie Diehl, in third place, will take home $40,250.
The amount for each musher is determined by the number of finishers of the race. Twenty-nine mushers finished the 2023 Iditarod, which ended when Jason Mackey came in Friday evening as the Red Lantern. Mushers in positions 21 through 29 will receive $1,049 each. The rest of the $500,000 purse prize money will be divided between the mushers in the top 20 positions.
March 17 - 5:20 p.m.
Red Lantern Jason Mackey finishes 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
Running just five dogs for the final 123 miles of the race, Jason Mackey crossed under the Burled Arch as the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s Red Lantern.
“This is probably the coolest thing ever, I’ve never had a crowd like this in all my finishes,” Mackey said.
Ambulance and fire crews from Nome escorted Mackey and his tiny team of powerhouse dogs onto Front Street as a tribute to his brother Lance, who passed away in September 2022. Mackey carried in his sled the ashes of both Lance and their mother.
Digestion issues with the dogs and strong winds slowed but did not stop the experienced musher.
“You know, at one point I left Eagle Island, the wind had just kicked up. Just as I was fixing to leave it started to blow. At that point I was wondering what I was doing,” Mackey said. “But it’s just what we do, you don’t give up.”
A few of Mackey’s competitors came out to visit him at the final checkpoint before Nome to give him an extra push for the last leg of the race.
“It’s way cool, Wade and Hunter came out to Safety so that was a total boost,” Mackey said.
When told that fellow musher Jed Stephensen said the Mackey family were “as tough as nails.” Mackey casually brushed it off.
“Everybody that runs dogs and has competed and completed the Iditarod is tougher than most,” he replied.
As the Red Lantern musher, Mackey had the honor of ending this year’s race by extinguishing the Widow’s Lamp, which hangs under the Burled Arch from the race’s start to signify that there are mushers out on the trail.
At the same time, Mackey received the exciting news that he’s now a grandpa. The newest member of the extended Mackey clan entered the world on Thursday night at 6 pounds … and 13 ounces, just like the bib number worn by both uncle Lance and great-grandpa Dick in their first Iditarod wins.
The newest Mackey will be eligible to race in the 2041 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race if they complete qualifying races in time.
March 17 - 3:59 p.m.
Penultimate musher Jed Stephensen crosses finish line
Race rookie Jed Stephenson completed his first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, crossing the finish line with ten dogs on the gangline. His total race time was 12 days, 44 minutes and 24 seconds.
One of four medical professionals running the 2023 race, Stephensen said his calling is to help people as an emergency room nurse, but running the Iditarod is a dream come true — one born after he read “Dogsong” by fellow Iditarod finisher Gary Paulsen.
Training in northern Idaho means his dogs weren’t used to the Alaskan landscape, but that didn’t hold them back.
“I felt like a fish out of water in some circumstances,” Stephensen said. “But we got through them. Coming into Shaktoolik and leaving Shaktoolik were probably the pivotal moments of the race, it was pretty intense.”
Trail-weary and exhausted, Stephensen struggled to put into words the feeling of finally finishing the race he’s dreamed of since his youth.
“It’s hard to have like … mental … my cognition’s not the best.”
When asked what it meant to him to run a large portion of the trail with Jason Mackey, Stephensen choked back tears.
“It’s meant a lot. The Mackey family is probably the toughest family on planet earth. There was moments we were crossing the Bering Sea ice, I was wondering if he was gonna make it — but that’s stupid, there’s nothing that’s going to stop Jason.”
March 17 - 12:24 p.m.
Bridgett Watkins finishes first Iditarod
Fairbanks nurse Bridgett Watkins accomplished her childhood dream of running the Iditarod as she completed the race on Friday afternoon in 11 days, 21 hours and 48 seconds with 11 dogs in harness.
More sirens than usual rang out from the first-responder vehicles parked on Front Street to honor precious cargo that Watkins carried for a friend — the ashes of her husband, Alaska Court Services Officer Curtis Worland. Worland died tragically in a musk ox encounter in December of 2022 and his wife Kamey entrusted her friend Watkins with the ashes in order to return Worland back to the community in which he served.
“He’s pretty special to my family as well,” Watkins said. “I told Kamey I was going to bring him home.”
Watkins was part of the group that encountered a severe blizzard during the last 50 miles of the 2022 race and like Thiart, sustained injuries. Watkins said part of her reason for running the Iditarod again was to show her two sons the importance of pursuing dreams through difficulty.
“Dreams can come true if you work hard enough at it,” Watkins said. “You just got to keep trying no matter what.”
March 17 - 12:20 p.m.
Gerhardt Thiart is 1st South African to finish Iditarod
Gerhardt Thiart of Cape Town, South Africa has finally completed the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race with a time of 11 days, 21 hours and 26 seconds.
In 2002, Thiart and his wife met breeders of Siberian huskies, fell in love with the breed and with working dogs and promptly ordered an Iditarod documentary. After moving to the United States in 2010 and working for a kennel in Michigan, Thiart became a United States citizen in 2020 and moved to Alaska.
Thiart is the first finisher from the nation of South Africa and to celebrate this feat, and the national anthem of that country was played as soon as the team finished.
The 26th-place finish was more than triumphant for the second-time rookie, who says the finish to last year’s race had him in the “right place, wrong time’ and that he spent 12 days “freezing his butt off” and only needed six more hours — just 50 miles — to finish the race he’d dreamed of for two decades. When a blizzard last year derailed the racing plans of a handful of mushers, Thiart was one that had to scratch after sustaining a broken ankle in the severe weather.
Now that he’s finished, the usually loquacious Thiart was a man of few words.
“It feels amazing, thank you. It’s just amazing,” Thiart said. “There was a sight breeze but there was no wind, not as last year, It ain’t coming today.”
March 17 - 9:28 a.m.
Top 25 in Nome, only four teams left on trail
Bailey Vitello completed his first Iditarod Friday morning when he pulled into Nome at 7:49 a.m. with 11 dogs in harness. Vitello began the race along with his father, Gregg, but the elder Vitello ultimately pulled the plug Saturday afternoon when he scratched at the checkpoint of Iditarod.
The younger Vitello, who races out of New Hampshire, finished 24th with a race time of 11 days, 16 hours, 49 minutes, 57 seconds.
Second-year musher Joanna Jagow of Two Rivers wasn’t far behind, crossing the finish line with nine dogs at 8:07 a.m. for a race time of 11 days, 17 hours, 7 minutes, 23 seconds.
Jagow’s 25th-place finish betters her rookie finish of 29th from two years ago.
Only four teams remain on the trail: Gerhardt Thiart, Bridgett Watkins, Jason Mackey and Jed Stephensen. Thiart and Watkins left the checkpoint in Safety at 9:09 a.m. and 9:16 a.m., respectively.
Mackey and Stephensen left the White Mountain checkpoint at 6:18 a.m. and 6:33 a.m., respectively.
March 17 - 6:08 a.m.
Vitello, Jagow through Safety, set sights on Nome
Rookie Bailey Vitello and sophomore musher Joanna Jagow are just miles from the finish in Nome, with both mushers pushing through the last checkpoint in Safety just past 5 a.m. Friday, only a couple minutes apart.
Vitello is running 24th with 11 dogs in harness while Jagow is 25th with nine dogs.
Jagow is looking to improve on her rookie finish of 29th in 2021.
Behind them, the last four teams on the trail have all reached White Mountain, including three rookies in Gerhardt Thiart, Bridgett Watkins, and Jed Stephensen, as well as veteran Jason Mackey, who has seven Iditarod starts under his belt since his first in 2004.
March 16 - 10:58 p.m.
Mackey and Stephensen into White Mountain
Jed Stephensen and Jason Mackey checked into the White Mountain checkpoint on Thursday night.
Stephensen arrived at 10:16 p.m. with Mackey just one minute behind.
Stephensen remarked that he was impressed by Mackey’s minuscule team of just five dogs, who kept pace with him along the stretch of Bering Sea coast between checkpoints.
“You’re making me look bad,” Stephensen said jokingly.
March 16 - 8:04 p.m.
Mike Williams Jr. finishes in 23rd place
Akiak musher Mike Williams Jr. finished his eighth Iditarod Thursday night in 11 days, 4 hours, 57 minutes and 16 seconds.
Waiting for him in the chute was his father, 15-time Iditarod finisher Mike Williams Sr. The Yup’ik community leader — who wore a handmade hat bearing the name Mike on the front and Williams on the back — recalled his experiences on the trail before his son pulled onto Front Street.
”It’s the best, I miss it. I did 15 Iditarods and I enjoyed all of them,” the elder Williams said. “We both ran eight years ago, that was the most memorable race I ever had.”
“By Nikolai I told him to get out of my sight — and he did,” Williams Sr. said with a laugh.
After his finish, Williams Jr. said it wasn’t always an easy run but he was glad to get his young team some experience on the trail.
“It was a pretty challenging run, but it was pretty good. We had some pretty nice weather and pretty decent trail,” Williams Jr. said.
“A lot’s happened since the start — seeing some of the country I haven’t seen in a while and seeing some of the people. It was good to be out there again,” Williams Jr. said.
March 16 - 5:08 p.m.
Mackey and Stephensen depart Elim
Veteran musher Jason Mackey left the Elim checkpoint at 4:13 p.m. on Thursday afternoon with just five dogs in harness — the minimum number required, according to race rules.
Mackey was followed shortly by rookie Jed Stephensen, who exited the checkpoint at 4:32 p.m.
Stephensen is the race’s currently in the Red Lantern position.
March 16 - 3:09 p.m.
Berington twins finish in 21st, 22nd place
The tandem teams of twins Kristy and Anna Berington crossed under Nome’s Burled Arch just before 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Kristy came down Front Street ahead of her sister with eight dogs in harness. Kristy finished her 13th Iditarod — and a 21st-place finish — in 10 days, 23 hours, 50 minutes and 50 seconds.
Anna had nine dogs on the line and finished with a total race time of 10 days, 23 hours, 51 minutes and 6 seconds in 22nd position.
Kristy and Anna Berington moved to Alaska to train with 1984 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Dean Osmar in 2007. In the almost decade and a half since, the twins — who used to pretend to mush their pet dogs growing up — have 24 Iditarod finishes between the two of them. Kristy ran two Iditarods and a Yukon Quest before Anna entered her first race.
March 16 - 10:19 a.m.
Naaktgeboren finishes in 20th place
Deke Naaktgeboren claimed his best finish yet in the Iditarod on Thursday morning, taking 20th place. Naaktgeboren previously competed in the 2020 and 2022 races, finishing in 27th and 29th, respectively.
Naaktgeboren’s total time was 10 days 19 hours 5 minutes and 2 seconds.
March 16 - 7:55 a.m.
Riley Dyche, Ramey Smyth take 18th and 19th place
Willow veteran Ramey Smyth arrived in Nome Thursday morning to complete his 27th Iditarod, finishing 19th with a total time of 10 days, 15 hours, 24 minutes, and 34 seconds.
It extended a remarkable run for Smyth, who competed in his first Iditarod in 1994. Since then, Smyth has only failed to make the finish line once, when he scratched in 2014. Smyth has 12 career top 10s in the race, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2011.
Fairbanks musher Riley Dyche arrived in Nome over an hour ahead of Smyth, at 5:11 a.m., to finish 18th, his best career Iditarod result in four tries. Dyche’s total time was 10 days, 14 hours, 11 minutes, 46 seconds.
March 16 - 5:54 a.m.
Deeter finishes rookie race, Petit finishes ninth career race
Fairbanks musher KattiJo Deeter and six dogs arrived in Nome Wednesday night to finish 16th in a time of 10 days, 6 hours, and 44 minutes. Deeter was the third-highest rookie in the race with her finishing time at 9:44 p.m.
Last year, Deeter attempted her first Iditarod but scratched between White Mountain and Safety after 11 days on the trail.
Veteran Nic Petit finished 17th when he came across the line at 1:09 a.m. Thursday morning with nine dogs. Petit’s final finishing time was 10 days, 10 hours, 9 minutes, and 18 seconds.
Petit has plenty of Iditarod experience, including six top-10 finishes with a high of second in 2018.
Eleven teams remain on the trail, with Riley Dyche and Ramey Smyth leaving Safety early Thursday morning. Jason Mackey is currently in 29th place in Koyuk and in position to win the Red Lantern award.
March 15 - 6:59 p.m.
Aaron Peck finishes 15th
Grand Prairie, Alberta’s Aaron Peck finished his seventh Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at 6:15 p.m. with eight dogs in harness. His race time of 10 days, 3 hours, 15 minutes, and 17 seconds is the Canadian’s third-best race time. Peck finished 14th in 2021 and 10th in 2022 and is the 2019 winner of the Herbie Nayokpuk Award.
March 15 - 4:59 p.m.
Jessie Royer completes 20th Iditarod
Montana musher Jessie Royer finished her 20th Iditarod race with a time of 10 days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, and 7 seconds. Upon arrival, an excited Royer said she was happy to be back in town.
“I haven’t been to Nome in two years,” Royer said, who skipped the race in 2022 but ran the shortened Gold Loop race in 2021. “It was good! I got more sleep on this race than I have before.”
According to Royer, this race was a good one for her team of mostly rookie dogs. She began the race with only one Iditarod-veteran dog attached to the gangline.
Royer and Australian race veteran Christian Turner were traveling along the trail together and planned to leave for the Safety checkpoint overnight. When they got information that conditions further down the trail were windy, they were advised to leave at daybreak but decided against it.
After the race Royer said that since Turner’s lead over her was less than an hour, she felt her team could have pushed harder to pass him for a 13th-place finish.
Royer expressed gratitude for the race volunteers all along the Iditarod Trail.
“I really thought that the volunteer group at all the checkpoints this year were amazing,” Royer said, praising their help setting up camp and getting into drop bags.
March 15 - 4:20 p.m.
Christian Turner completes third Iditarod
Australian musher Christian Turner pulled into Nome at 4:16 p.m. with eight dogs in harness, completing his third running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in his second-best time of 10 days, one hour, 16 minutes, and 6 seconds.
March 15 - 3:45 p.m.
Dan Kaduce finishes 12th
Dan Kaduce is now the 12th musher to finish the Iditarod this year with a race time of 10 days, 23 minutes, and 4 seconds.
Kaduce had eight dogs in harness for the 2-hour and 39-minute run from the Safety checkpoint.
March 15 - 2:54 p.m.
“Hunter, you are completing your childhood dream — congratulations!”
Hunter Keefe of Knik has completed his first attempt at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race after crossing under the Burled Arch with eight dogs in harness.
As he entered Front Street, the words of an emcee told the gathered fans that Keefe, originally from Michigan, decided he wanted to become a musher at six years of age and has even dressed up as a musher for Halloween.
Keefe completed his rookie run in 9 days, 23 hours and 39 minutes and 44 seconds in 11th place. Keefe’s dog team this year belongs to Raymie Redington, the father of race winner Ryan, both of whom were waiting in the chute for Keefe’s arrival alongside fellow rookie Eddie Burke Jr.
Harsh winds in the area known as The Blowhole forced Keefe off the trail on Tuesday night. Keefe sheltered in a cabin near the Topkok hills, and has loved every experience during his first Iditarod race.
“It’s just been a joyride all day, even last night — we finally got to stay in a shelter cabin,” Keefe said excitedly.
For someone who has spent a lifetime dreaming of the race founded by Joe Redington Sr., Keefe said it was an honor to run dogs raised by the legendary family. Keefe ran up to hug the race winner and congratulate him as soon as he’d dropped his snowhook in the chute.
“I think that that’s the most incredible thing to happen, and I couldn’t have picked a better winner. I’m super happy for Ryan and I feel like it means a lot to this race,” Keefe said.
“I was thinking about him a lot on the trail, I bet Joe’s really happy right now.”
March 15 - 12:57 p.m.
The Iditarod Trail Song
Beloved Alaska troubadour Jim Varsos — better known to us as Hobo Jim — penned the Iditarod’s iconic anthem, “The Iditarod Trail Song”. Varsos passed away in October of 2021, and his absence was noted at this year’s pre-race banquet where he usually plays for the mushers, fans and race volunteers that gather to kick off the race festivities.
But Varsos and his songs live on in the heart of Alaskans young and old. As her family gathered to welcome Kelly Maixner into Nome, one of the littlest of the musher’s five children sang the lyrics and melody familiar to so many of us — “Well, give me a team and a good lead dog and a sled that’s built so fine/And let me race those miles to Nome, one thousand forty-nine/Then when I get back to my home/Hey I can tell my tale/I did, I did I did the Iditarod Trail.”
March 15 - 10:57 a.m.
Mushers in 11th-15th between White Mountain and Safety
The five mushers in 11th through 15th place are all between White Mountain and Safety. Hunter Keefe is the closest to the checkpoint — 12 miles from Safety — and is followed by Dan Kaduce, Jessie Royer, Christian Turner and Aaron Peck.
March 15 - 8:55 a.m.
Kelly scratches in Shaktoolik
Second-year musher Eric Kelly became only the fourth musher to scratch from the 2023 Iditarod early Wednesday morning.
Kelly officially called it a race at 12:50 a.m., according to Iditarod officials, telling handlers that it was “in the best interest of his team.” Kelly had 10 dogs in harness, all in good health.
Kelly joins Brent Sass, rookie Gregg Vitello and rookie Jennifer LaBar as the race’s only scratches, leaving 29 out of a total 33 starters.
The Knik musher who runs DayBreak Mushing ran his first Iditarod last year, finishing 34th in more than 13 days.
March 15 - 6:23 a.m.
Top 10 teams all in Nome
Wade Marrs came across the finish line early Wednesday morning to round out the top 10 finishing order in Iditarod 51. Marrs finished shortly after 4 a.m. with nine dogs for a total race time of 9 days, 13 hours, 7 minutes, 56 seconds, giving the Mat-Su native five career top-10 finishes in 12 attempts.
Rookie musher Eddie Burke Jr. crossed the finish line late Tuesday night of his first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in seventh and in doing so, secured his title as the 2023 race’s Rookie of the Year.
Burke arrived with his team at 11:37 p.m. Tuesday with seven dogs in harness. Burke’s seventh-place finish landed him in the same position in the top-10 as previous Rookie of the Year Award winners Jessie Holmes (2018) and Joar Liefseth Ulsom (2013).
Burke had waged a spirited battle with fellow rookie Hunter Keefe, who last checked into the White Mountain checkpoint Tuesday evening in 11th place.
|1. Ryan Redington||In Nome||Tues 12:12 p.m.||8d 21h 12m 58s|
|2. Pete Kaiser||In Nome||Tues 1:36 p.m.||8d 22h 36m 40s|
|3. Richie Diehl||In Nome||Tues 2:40 p.m.||8d 23h 40m 20s|
|4. Matt Hall||In Nome||Tues 5:21 p.m.||9d 2h 21m 57s|
|5. Jessie Holmes||In Nome||Tues 7:08 p.m.||9d 4h 8m 53s|
|6. Kelly Maixner||In Nome||Tues 8:00 p.m.||9d 5h 0m 15s|
|7. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)||In Nome||Tues 11:37 p.m.||9d 8h 37m 54s|
|8. Matthew Failor||In Nome||Wed 12:20 a.m.||9d 9h 20m 36s|
|9. Mille Porsild||In Nome||Wed 3:42 a.m.||9d 12h 42m 32s|
|10. Wade Marrs||In Nome||Wed 4:07 a.m.||9d 13h 7m 56s|
March 14 - 8:10 p.m.
Kelly Maixner finishes 6th
Full-time dentist Kelly Maixner has made it to the finish line, happily greeting his family — and chugging a beer — underneath the Burled Arch.
When asked why he ran this race, Maixner said it was partly to show his children the importance of never giving up, and partly because he’d been given the opportunity to run a great team of dogs from Dallas Seavey’s kennel. But when asked if he’ll run it again, Maixner was firm in his denial.
“No. I’m saying no for sure,” Maixner said. “I won’t say never again — but no for next year.”
March 14 - 7:35 p.m.
Matt Hall 4th, Jessie Holmes 5th
Matt Hall arrived in Nome Tuesday evening in fourth place with a race time of 9 days, 2 hours, 21 minutes, 57 seconds.
Fifth-place Jessie Holmes was close on Hall’s tail with a finishing time just under two hours after Hall’s — 9 days, 4 hours, 8 minutes, 53 seconds. Holmes blazed a time from Safety to Nome, making the trip in a speedy 2 hours, 39 minutes, fastest of all mushers in the top 10.
March 14 - 2:42 p.m.
Richie Diehl pulls into Nome, top 3 mushers all Alaska Native
Richie Diehl has finished the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in third place with 7 dogs in harness.
Redington (Inupiat), Kaiser (Yup’ik) and Diehl (Dena’ina Athabaskan) all have Alaska Native parents or Elders. This is the first time in the 51-year history of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that the top 3 mushers have all been of Alaska Native heritage.
Michael Williams Jr, also Yu’pik, rounds out the list of Indigenous mushers who competed in this year’s race.
Running dogs has been vital to the survival of Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar north for centuries, and was only done for sport after the influence of Western culture was brought to Alaska.
March 14 - 1:54 p.m.
Pete Kaiser is second into Nome
Pete Kaiser has finished the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in second position with a race time of 8 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes and 40 seconds. Kaiser finished his race at 1:36 p.m. local time.
Richie Diehl is within five miles of the finish in third place.
March 14 - 12:44 p.m.
Ryan Redington speaks after winning 2023 Iditarod
March 14 - 12:32 p.m.
Golden harness for Sven and Ghost
Redington selected two of his strongest dogs to be honored after the race, Sven and Ghost.
March 14 - 12:23 p.m.
Redington speaks after race win
“It means everything to bring that trophy home, its been a goal of mine since a very small child to win the Iditarod, and I can’t believe it, it finally happened. It took a lot of work, a lot of patience, and we failed a lot of times, but we kept our head up high,” Redington said to officials.
Redington’s father, uncle, older brother, younger brother and grandfather Joe have all run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, securing the family’s legacy as the first family of mushing.
“It’s been a very doggy life for all of us, and it’s something that we all work towards every day. No days off, we think about wining Iditarod. I learned a lot from both my brothers and I want to thank them for their encouragement.”
Ryan also thanked his wife Sarah for all of her support.
Redington was presented a check for $51,550 from Iditarod officials.
March 14 - 12:15 p.m.
Ryan Redington has won the 51st running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, becoming the first musher from the Redington family to win the race founded by Joe Redington, Sr.
Redington passed under the Burled Arch at 12:12 p.m., winning with a total time of 8 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes, and 58 seconds.
Read more about Ryan’s winning run here.
March 14 - 11:59 a.m.
Redington just 5 miles out of Nome
Race leader Ryan Redington is now approximately 5 miles out of Nome and the finish line to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Pete Kaiser is 16 miles out from Nome.
March 14 - 11:30 a.m.
Iditarod website experiencing outages
Iditarod.com and the Iditarod GPS tracker appear to be experiencing intermittent outages, giving some a “504 Gateway Time-out” page.
March 14 - 11:00 a.m.
Kaiser through Safety, almost 2 1/2 hours behind Redington
Second-place musher Pete Kaiser has made it through the last checkpoint in Safety, leaving at 10:44 a.m. with eight dogs in harness.
Kaiser is 2 hours, 22 minutes behind Redington, who has six dogs and is running a slower pace than Kaiser.
March 14 - 10:22 a.m.
Redington less than 15 miles from Nome
Race leader Ryan Redington is now only 14 miles from Nome. Meanwhile, Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl are closing in on the Safety checkpoint, with Kaiser 7 miles from Safety and Diehl 13 miles out.
March 14 - 8:40 a.m.
Redington through Safety
Ryan Redington checked in and out of the final checkpoint in Safety, leaving at 8:22 a.m., and has only the Burled Arch in Nome left in his sights.
The Knik musher’s team is now down to just six dogs in harness as he traverses the final 22 miles of the race.
Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl continue to give chase, about 25 miles behind.
March 14 - 6:00 a.m.
Redington less than 50 miles to Nome
Ryan Redington is closing in on the checkpoint in Safety early Tuesday morning as he chases his first Iditarod win. The Knik musher with deep family roots in the race leads Bethel musher Pete Kaiser by about 25 miles, according to the GPS tracker.
The top nine teams have gotten to White Mountain. Redington left the checkpoint at 12:15 a.m., with Kaiser in pursuit at 4:31 a.m. Richie Diehl was six minutes behind Kaiser in third.
Matt Hall left White Mountain in fourth at 6:35 a.m.
Kelly Maixner, Jessie Holmes, Matthew Failor, Mille Porsild and Eddie Burke Jr. are all expected to leave White Mountain later this morning.
March 14 - 1:08 a.m.
Ryan Redington out of White Mountain
Veteran musher Ryan Redington checked out of White Mountain at 12:15 a.m., taking off only three minutes after the mandatory eight hours the checkpoint requires.
March 13 - 8:21 p.m.
Nothing like a musher’s love
Splint is both a standout athlete on Ryan Redington’s team and a testament to how much mushers love their dogs.
At just a day old, Splint the puppy’s tail was stepped on by his mother and broken. Knowing how much a sled dog uses its tail to balance, his then-owner Chad Schouweiler used popsicle sticks to help the puppy mend. Splinting the broken tail allowed the tiny pup to grow up, train and play with the rest of his litter, but it didn’t slow him down — Splint ran with Schouweiler’s team in Wisconsin before joining Redington’s team a few years ago.
While stopped at Unalakleet, Redington shared his dog’s story with our trail crew while outfitting Splint and the rest of the team with fresh — and of course, green — dog booties.
March 13 - 6:59 p.m.
Trailbreakers finish a race of their own
The Iditarod trailbreakers — a team of their own in the Last Great Race — have crossed under the Burled Arch in Nome, marking an end to their journey. The six individuals took off on snow machines more than a week before the mushers to mark the trail, build ice bridges, as well as cut brush and deadfall.
Spencer Pape, who has been volunteering as a trailbreaker for 13 years, said it was a challenging task this year because the southern route hasn’t been run since 2019.
“It’s slow going, but it was fun. It was rewarding and we’re glad to be in Nome,” Pape said.
The group stopped under the iconic Burled Arch to take photos when they arrived Nome. Their snowmachines were packed with the equipment they used to maintain the nearly 1,000-mile trail including shovels, chainsaws, and axes.
It’s an important job to ensure the mushers are able to safely see the path of travel, especially when facing white-out conditions.
“It’s all important to keep the race going forward and keep the race going fast,” Pape said.
March 13 - 6:49 p.m.
Tourists make bucket-list trip to Nome
Stories from the Iditarod Trail have fascinated people for decades, from the writer Jack London to Father of the Iditarod Joe Redington Sr. Fans of the race descend upon the tiny city of Nome every March to watch mushers roll into town as a blaring siren signals their arrival.
One of this year’s visitors is Kristen Zakutansky, who came all the way from Indiana to catch the finish of the 51st Iditarod. It’s been an item on one of her lists for some time.
“Bucket list! This is something I wanted to do and I am doing it. I do a lot of reading and when I was reading this is something that just intrigued me,” Zakutansky said. “Why would you want to make this 1,100 mile race? You have to be a super athlete, and why are you doing it? So that’s what I wanted to come and see.”
Others, like visitor Lisa Gaudin, have been waiting nearly a lifetime to see teams run the Iditarod in person.
“Well, we got to go out to Willow and saw the start and so number 16 said he’d buy me a beer if he made it to nome,” Gaudin said from Front Street.
“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she added. “My 8-year-old self can’t believe I’m here.”
March 13 - 5:07 p.m.
Redington arrives in White Mountain
Ryan Redington arrived at the White Mountain checkpoint at 4:12 p.m. with 8 dogs in harness.
March 13 - 3:39 p.m.
Mackey, Stephensen out of Kaltag
Jason Mackey has left the Kaltag checkpoint with 7 dogs in harness. Mackey checked out at 3:00 p.m.
Jed Stephenson followed shortly after, leaving at 3:09 p.m. with 12 dogs in harness.
Both teams will now make the 85-mile run to the Unalakleet checkpoint, and only one team remains at the Kaltag checkpoint — that of the race’s current Red Lantern, Eric Kelly.
Richie Diehl, Pete Kaiser and Matt Hall have all made it through the Elim checkpoint and are currently running their teams on the ice over the Bering Sea next to the coast. Diehl checked out at 2:18 p.m, five hours after race leader Redington departed with his team. Kaiser departed at 2:22 p.m. and Matt Hall followed just 20 minutes later.
March 13 - 2:57 p.m.
Rookie of the Year contenders Hunter Keefe and Eddie Burke Jr.
Throughout the 2023 race, rookies Hunter Keefe and Eddie Burke Jr. have stood out amongst the pack. Both mushers have been in or near the top-10 for the majority of their races, emerging as the top rookies. But after an incident took Burke Jr. off the back of his sled, Keefe was ready to assist without much concern for his own race pace. Check out the latest trailside dispatch from Jordan Rodenberger about the race for Rookie of the Year.
March 13 - 1:50 p.m.
Nome prepares to welcome race finishers
It’s about to be the busiest day of the year in the city of Nome. Home to just under 3,700 residents, the tiny city’s current population has ballooned well past that number as fans, family and media descend upon the town for the Iditarod finish.
The famed Burled Arch is readied, and the lights are in place for broadcasting what is likely to be an early-morning finish for the race winner.
March 13 - 12:59 p.m.
Redington now less than 100 miles to finish
Running with eight dogs in harness, Ryan Redington is the closest musher to the Iditarod finish line at 98 miles out from Nome.
Resting in Elim just 25 miles back from Redington are Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl, both of whom also have 8 dogs in harness.
Still at the Kaltag checkpoint are the teams of Jason Mackey, Eric Kelly, and Jed Stephensen. With only 7 dogs remaining on his team, Mackey will have to scratch if he drops more than one of his dogs. The race’s Rule 17 reads that “A musher must have at least twelve (12) dogs on the line to start the race. At least five (5) dogs must be on the towline at the finish line. No dogs may be added to a team after the re-start of the race.”
The race out of Kaltag has become a group effort, with Joanna Jagow, Bridgett Watkins, Bailey Vitello and Gerhardt Thiart traveling in a convoy with each team only a few miles apart from one another.
March 13 - 6:45 a.m.
Redington, Kaiser battle for lead with less than 150 miles to go
Ryan Redington — grandson of Joe Redington Sr., the “Father of the Iditarod” — leads the Last Great Race as it winds along the Norton Sound coast, with Bethel musher Pete Kaiser hot on his heels.
Redington checked into Koyuk late Sunday night with Kaiser following 35 minutes later. Both rested for roughly 3 1/2 hours before taking off again.
Redington has never won the Last Great Race, but has finished top-10 in each of the last three years, with a seventh-place run in 2021 being his best. Redington’s grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., also never won the Iditarod but played one of the biggest roles in the race’s creation in 1973, fundraising and organizing the inaugural event, which was won by Dick Wilmarth.
Kaiser is a former winner, claiming the 2019 title, which used the race’s southern route, the same as this year.
Aniak’s Richie Diehl reached Koyuk at 1:42 a.m. and has been resting his team. Matt Hall was fourth into the checkpoint at 4:41 a.m.
|Musher||Miles from Nome||Last checkpoint||In||Out|
|1. Ryan Redington||142||Koyuk||Sun 10:46 p.m.||Mon 2:17 a.m.|
|2. Pete Kaiser||146||Koyuk||Sun 11:21 p.m.||Mon 2:43 a.m.|
|3. Richie Diehl||168||Koyuk||Mon 1:42 a.m.||Mon 5:49 a.m.|
|4. Matt Hall||171||Koyuk||Mon 4:41 a.m.|
|5. Kelly Maixner||185||Shaktoolik||Sun 10:51 p.m.||Sun 11:01 p.m.|
|6. Jessie Holmes||198||Shaktoolik||Sun 11:17 p.m.||Sun 11:28 p.m.|
|7. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)||185||Shaktoolik||Sun 9:29 p.m.||Mon 1:50 a.m.|
|8. Matthew Failor||184||Shaktoolik||Sun 10:36 p.m.||Mon 2:10 a.m.|
|9. Hunter Keefe (R)||192||Shaktoolik||Sun 9:19 p.m.||Mon 3:35 a.m.|
|10. Mille Porsild||197||Shaktoolik||Mon 3:43 a.m.||Mon 3:51 a.m.|
March 12 - 11:27 p.m.
Frontrunners move into Koyuk
Ryan Redington pulled into the Koyuk checkpoint at 10:46 p.m. Sunday, making the 50-mile run in 5 hours, 58 minutes, with an average speed of 8.38 mph. Race archives show this put him into Koyuk about 49 minutes ahead of John Baker’s time in 2011. Baker went on to win that Iditarod with a record time of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds.
2019 champion Pete Kaiser arrived in Koyuk at 11:21 p.m. Sunday, taking 5 hours, 48 minutes, to make the run from Shaktoolik with an average speed of 8.62 mph.
March 12 - 2:21 p.m.
2019 Champion Pete Kaiser into Shaktoolik
2019 Iditarod Champion Pete Kaiser arrived into the Shaktoolik checkpoint at 2:06 p.m. Sunday. This puts him just 46 minutes behind frontrunner Ryan Redington. Kaiser made the run to Shaktoolik in 5 hours, 7 minutes, with an average speed of 7.82 mph.
March 12 - 12:44 p.m.
Redington first into Shaktoolik
Ryan Redington continues to lead Iditarod 2023, arriving at the Shaktoolik checkpoint at 1:20 p.m. Sunday. Redington and his team made the 40-mile run in 5 hours,13 minutes, with an average speed of 7.67 mph.
According to race records, John Baker arrived in Shaktoolik at 2:44 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2011. This means Redington got to Shaktoolik 1 hour and 24 minutes faster than Baker did during his record-setting run in 2011.
Redington had 11 dogs in harness when he arrived in Shaktoolik.
March 12 - 12:40 p.m.
2023 Iditarod has the potential for record-setting win
Ryan Redington reached the Unalakleet checkpoint at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, which is ahead of 2011 Champion John Baker’s record-setting pace. In 2011, Baker arrived at the Unalakleet checkpoint at 5:04 a.m. Baker went on to win that Iditarod with a record time of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds. Redington’s 4:20 a.m. check-in time bests Baker’s previous time by 44 minutes. Baker left Unalakleet a little more than an hour before Baker did in the 2011 race.
There are still 261 miles of trail to cover after the athletes depart the coastal checkpoint. The run from Unalakleet to Nome is notorious for extreme wind and weather events that have changed the outcome for top contenders in the past.
March 12 - 11:34 a.m.
Pete Kaiser, Richie Diehl blow through Unalakleet checkpoint
There was no time to waste for veteran mushers Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl as the pair both blew through the Unalakleet checkpoint, staying only long enough to grab a few supplies. Kaiser was the second musher into the checkpoint at 8:54 a.m., just under an hour after Ryan Redington departed Unalakleet.
The stop was short and sweet for Kaiser - five minutes to be exact - who ran up to the checkpoint building to fill his thermos with coffee before heading back on the trail at 8:59 a.m. toward the next checkpoint in Shaktoolik.
Diehl’s stay was only a minute longer than Kaiser’s when he arrived at 10:06 a.m. before departing six minutes later after repacking his sled and grabbing some drinking water.
Kaiser and Diehl both camped for several hours approximately 20 miles before Unalakleet, giving them the edge they needed to forgo a rest at the first checkpoint along the coast.
March 12 - 4:20 a.m.
Ryan Redington first to Unalakleet, wins “Gold Coast Award”
Veteran Ryan Redington and his 12 dogs pulled into Unalakaleet at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, the first checkpoint along the Western Alaska Coast. As the first musher to Unalakleet, Redington was presented with the ‘Ryan Air Gold Coast Award’ and received $1,500 in gold nuggets and a carved ivory sled dog team.
“It is very special to be here first, it is always special to get here, but to get here first and win that ivory dog sled and the gold, it is like a childhood dream, you know, coming alive here,” Redington said, who’s mother Barbara is from Unalakleet.
After reaching the Unalakleet checkpoint, mile 737 along the Iditarod trail, the race will run along the Western Alaska coast before the Nome finish line, which has consistently posed problems for mushers over the years.
“Just a rollercoaster of emotions, every day, every run is challenging, there is always something,” Redington said of the coast.
2019 Champion Pete Kaiser and veteran Richie Diehl are currently resting about 20 miles outside of Unalakleet as of this publishing.
March 11 - 8:44 p.m.
Rookie musher Eddie Burke, Jr. loses his dog team
Rookie musher Eddie Burke, Jr. lost his dog team on the run from Grayling to Eagle Island. According to Burke, about 15 to 20 miles outside of Eagle Island, he found himself dozing off on the back of his sled and caught himself as he was falling asleep. He stumbled and fell off the sled. The dog team ran ahead to the checkpoint without their musher.
“It puts me a few more hours behind now, because I had to walk for quite a while,” said Burke. “But Hunter Keefe gave me a ride for a bit, Christian Turner did as well for a little while, but having two guys on a sled wasn’t doing him any favors so I figured it was best if I just walked.”
The video on the Iditarod Insider shows Burke arriving at the checkpoint on a snow machine. According to the Iditarod rules, “The driver may recover his/her team either on foot, with assistance from another musher or mechanized vehicle and continue the race. Motorized assistance must be reported to an official at the next checkpoint. If mechanized help is used and advantage has been gained, the Race Marshal may impose appropriate sanctions.”
Mark Nordman, Iditarod Race Marshal, told Alaska’s News Source, “The number one thing is to get your dog team.” Nordman also confirmed that Burke lost time due to the incident so gained no advantage from the incident.
March 11 - 4:15 p.m.
Rookie musher Gregg Vitello scratches
Rookie musher Gregg Vitello at the Iditarod checkpoint Saturday at 3:34 p.m. According to a press release from the Iditarod, Vitello contacted the Race Marshal Mark Nordman and asked for the Iditarod trail sweep crew to escort him and his dog team back to Iditarod. The Iditarod says Vitello and his team are fine and will be taken off the trail by the Iditarod Air Force.
Vitello had 12 dogs in harness when he scratched. The release says he scratched in the best interest of his team.
March 11 - 4:15 p.m.
Sass talks about his health and how his dogs are picking up on his mood
Veteran musher and 2022 Iditarod champion Brent Sass scratched early this morning at the Eagle Island checkpoint. The Iditarod Insider caught up with Sass as he was arriving in Eagle Island, before he scratched and asked how it was going. Sass said he hasn’t been feeling well for much of the race.
“I’ve been kind of sick on and off the whole race, but it kind of hit hard today and earlier,” said Sass. “Also I have three cracked teeth that I haven’t dealt with and this morning, they’ve been kind of on and off been giving me a hard time, but this morning, it’s just kind of been a steady ache, non-stop, kind of all-day long.”
Sass said his team was eating well but felt they were picking up on mood. “They’ve been noticing it the whole time. They’ve been doing a good job of keeping it positive and with me, kind of, being bummed out just because I’m not feeling so hot,” said Sass. “I’ve put on a pretty good facade in the checkpoints and whatnot but you know, when it’s just them and us, me and them, they’re definitely picking up on the fact that I’m not feeling so great.”
According to Iditarod Insider, Sass’s dog team is being taken care of and Sass has had medical attention.
March 11 - 1:52 p.m.
Redington first to Kaltag, claims Fish First Award
Veteran musher Ryan Redington, bib #5, was the first into the Kaltag checkpoint -- arriving at 12:47 p.m. Saturday -- and so claimed the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award. As part of the award, Redington receives 25 pounds of Bristol Bay salmon, $2,000 and a beautiful piece of wood burned art by Apay’uq Moore.
Redington had 12 dogs in harness when he arrived at Kaltag.
March 11 - 9:43 a.m.
Defending champion Sass scratches from Iditarod
The reigning champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has scratched from this year’s race.
According to a press release from the Iditarod Trail Committee, Brent Sass scratched at the Eagle Island checkpoint at 7:42 a.m. Saturday. The press release stated Sass, “didn’t feel he could care for his team due to current concerns with his periodontal health.”
Read the full article here.
March 10 - 7:43 p.m.
Diehl, Porsild exit Grayling with Sass still leading
Richie Diehl and Mille Porsild are the two latest musher to leave the Grayling checkpoint for Eagle Island. The teams will follow the mighty Yukon River for 62 miles until they reach the Eagle Island checkpoint.
Ahead of the pack, Jessie Holmes rested his team alongside the trail about 13 miles back from Sass. Although Sass still holds the lead, he has not completed the mandatory 8-hour rest on the Yukon River — but Holmes, Petit, Redington and Diehl all have. Teams that have taken their rest will be able to pass Sass during his layover, making the race both to and along the Bering Sea coast an exciting one to watch.
March 10 - 3:46 p.m.
A view from above Iditarod
As the Alaska’s News Source trail crew flew out of Iditarod this week, they sent a spectacular photo of a dog team parking lot at the checkpoint o the Iditarod River.
March 10 - 3:20 p.m.
Holmes enjoys a hearty meal
Not many dinners on the Iditarod trail begin with a bowl of robust lobster bisque with King crab salad garnished with crème fraîche — unless you’re Jessie Holmes.
Holmes was the winner of this year’s prize for being the first musher to reach the Yukon River. In addition to the soup course, Holmes was served a filet mignon with a red wine demiglace topped with maitake mushrooms aside aspargus and mashed Yukon gold potatoes.
After taking a bite of dessert — decadent cheesecake drizzled with fruit topping — Holmes turned to executive chef of popular Anchorage restaurant Marx Brothers Cafe, Jack Amon and admitted he’s been making a mistake.
“I’ve been buying my cheesecake at the wrong place — Costco,” Holmes said.
March 10 - 2:22 p.m.
Top 5 all into Grayling, Failor checks in
The Grayling checkpoint started to get a little crowded around midday on Friday as more mushers rolled in with their teams. Brent Sass, Richie Diehl, Pete Kaiser, Matt Failor, and Kelly Maixner all made it to the Yukon River stop before 2 p.m.
Matt Failor took care of his team at the checkpoint and said he’s been in “his own little bubble” and doesn’t have a clue where the leaders are or where other mushers have taken their mandatory rests. While Failor had to dispatch a moose during last year’s race, this year he’s been able to avoid encounters.
March 10 - 12:42 p.m.
Jennifer LaBar gives update on fractured finger
The only musher to scratch so far this year has been rookie Jennifer LaBar from Healy. LaBar posted an update about her injury and recover to her kennel’s Facebook page midday on Friday. Luckily for LaBar, the checkpoint she came into after sustaining a serious injury to her left hand was staffed by former medical professionals who aided her in making the heartbreaking — but ultimately safe — decision to scratch.
March 10 - 7:30 a.m.
Top 3 reach Yukon River, reigning champ takes lead
Nic Petit and Brent Sass joined Jessie Holmes in Anvik early Friday morning as the first three mushers to reach the Yukon River.
Sass was first into Shageluk late Thursday night but took a four-hour break as Holmes breezed right through and went ahead to Anvik, where he has been resting his team since 4:03 a.m. Petit also spent minimal time in Shageluk, departing at 3:13 a.m. Friday.
Sass has since recaptured the lead and is back on the trail with the next checkpoint, Grayling, in his sights on the race’s southern route.
“I have only run the southern route once, and that was back in 2013, so it’s going to be brand new country,” Sass said. “We were here two years ago with the Gold Trail Loop. So, yeah, it’s going to be exciting.”
|Musher||Miles to Nome||Last checkpoint||In||Out|
|1. Brent Sass||484||Anvik||Fri 7:04 a.m.||Fri 7:09 a.m.|
|2. Jessie Holmes||486||Anvik||Fri 4:03 a.m.|
|3. Nic Petit||486||Anvik||Fri 6:54 a.m.|
|4. Richie Diehl||496||Shageluk||Fri 12:49 a.m.||Fri 4:46 a.m.|
|5. Pete Kaiser||498||Shageluk||Fri 1:08 a.m.||Fri 5:19 a.m.|
|6. Ryan Redington||511||Shageluk||Fri 1:00 a.m.|
|7. Matthew Failor||511||Shageluk||Fri 3:14 a.m.|
|8. Hunter Keefe (R)||511||Shageluk||Fri 4:16 a.m.|
|9. Mille Porsild||511||Shageluk||Fri 5:03 a.m.|
|10. Christian Turner||511||Shageluk||Fri 5:35 a.m.|
March 9 - 10:26 p.m.
Pete Kaiser discusses strength of his team, camaraderie among competitors
Pete Kaiser, who has run inside the top-10 for most of the race and continues to lurk behind the leaders, spoke with Alaska’s News Source earlier Thursday from the checkpoint of Iditarod on how the race is shaping up.
March 9 - 7:57 p.m.
Top 5 on the trail: Holmes, Sass, Diehl, Kaiser and Redington
After sunset on Thursday, the top-5 teams in the Iditarod were all past the halfway point and eager to continue on to Nome.
Jessie Holmes led the pack, with Brent Sass about two miles behind. Richie Diehl’s team is about nine miles back, and four miles behind him were the teams of Ryan Redington and Pete Kaiser.
Kelly Maixner pulled into the Iditarod checkpoint at 7:28 p.m. with 12 dogs in harness. Maixner could be seen on the Iditarod Insider live feed removing plastic sled runners and a few other supplies from his drop bags before tearing open a wrapped bale of hay and placing its contents on his sled — a clear indication that he will not be staying at the checkpoint. Maixner also dropped one dog.
Matt Hall was next into Iditarod at 7:33 p.m. with 12 dogs in harness. With his dogs barking and howling to follow Maixner’s, Hall left the checkpoint almost four hours later and headed down the trail.
Next in was Dan Kaduce made it to Iditarod with 10 dogs in harness and one sitting in the sled bag taking a break. Riley Dyche followed, running with 12 dogs in harness.
The next closest musher will come into the halfway checkpoint in about an hour.
March 9 - 7:21 p.m.
Weather along Iditarod Trail still warm, but cooler temps are coming
Alaska’s News Source Chief Meteorologist Melissa Frey has the news mushers have been waiting for — weather conditions along the Iditarod Trail are about to change, bringing in cooler temperatures and less precipitation.
March 9 - 7:00 p.m.
Gold nuggets, Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award presented to Wade Marrs
Like hundreds of men before him, Wade Marrs came into the tiny town of Iditarod in search of success and left with a pocket full of gold nuggets.
As part of the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award, Marrs was given the choice between a prize of a new smartphone or a handful of gold nuggets valued at $3,000. Marrs, like many mushers before him, selected the nuggets of Alaskan gold.
According to the Iditarod’s website, Iditarod was once a town of 10,000 residents and the hub of the Iditarod Mining District, where today’s Iditarod Historic Trail gets its name. In the years between 1908 and 1925, roughly $35 million in gold was extracted from the area. Dog teams like the ones used today for sport were used for hauling mail and supplies to and from villages like Iditarod.
Watch Marrs accept his award and select his prize, courtesy of Iditarod Insider.
March 9 - 4:30 p.m.
Holmes widens gap as several remain in Iditarod
Jessie Holmes is widening his gap ahead of the other mushers. Holmes is 38 miles from Shageluk, while the next nine mushers behind him remain in Iditarod. Those mushers are: Wade Marrs, Brent Sass, Richie Diehl, Ryan Redington, Pete Kaiser, Nic Petit, Eddie Burke Jr., Matthew Failor and Hunter Keefe.
March 9 - 2:44 p.m.
Holmes retakes the lead outside of Iditarod
With most incoming mushers resting at Iditarod, Jessie Holmes has passed through after checking in at 1:35 p.m. and leaving after just four minutes.
Wade Marrs, Richie Diehl and Brent Sass remain at Iditarod. Marrs is one of just 4 mushers yet to complete their mandatory 24-hour rest period along with Deke Naaktgebroren, Eric Kelly and Gregg Vitello.
March 9 - 12:55 p.m.
Marrs receives Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award, Sass into Iditarod
As the first musher into the Iditarod checkpoint, musher Wade Marrs became the 2023 winner of the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award.
The trophy, which remains at Iditarod headquarters in Wasilla, is made of Alaskan birch and marble and will had Marrs’ name added to the list of previous winners, which include previous race winners Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Brent Sass.
Second-place musher Brent Sass checked into the Iditarod checkpoint at 12:27 p.m. with 11 dogs in harness. Both Marrs and Sass are currently resting at Iditarod.
March 9 - 7:25 a.m.
Marrs rests at Iditarod checkpoint as others catch up
Knik musher Wade Marrs checked into the ghost town checkpoint of Iditarod early Thursday morning at 1:12 a.m. with 12 dogs in harness, but will soon be caught.
Since he has not taken his 24-hour layover, Marrs is expected to be caught and passed sometime Thursday. The rest of the current top-10 teams have logged their mandatory 24-hour rests. Eighteen of the remaining 32 teams have completed their required day-long stops.
Defending race champion Brent Sass and Jessie Holmes have been dueling for the runner-up position after taking their 24-hour layovers in Ophir. Holmes was holding second-place Thursday morning after Sass stopped to rest halfway between Ophir and Iditarod. Aniak musher Richie Diehl has also been in the mix.
Nicolas Petit, who took his mandatory 24 hours early at the Nikolai checkpoint, briefly leapfrogged all those mushers who rested in Ophir to take the second spot late Wednesday night, but has since dropped back to 10th, the GPS tracker shows.
|1. Wade Marrs||Iditarod||Thurs 1:12 a.m.|
|2. Nicolas Petit||Ophir||Wed 11:00 p.m.||Wed 11:20 p.m.|
|3. Jessie Holmes||Ophir||Tues 11:45 p.m.||Thurs 12:49 a.m.|
|4. Pete Kaiser||Ophir||Thurs 12:45 a.m.||Thurs 12:53 a.m.|
|5. Kelly Maixner||Ophir||Thurs 12:46 a.m.||Thurs 12:57 a.m.|
|6. Brent Sass||Ophir||Wed 12:20 a.m.||Thurs 1:00 a.m.|
|7. Matthew Failor||Ophir||Thurs 1:37 a.m.||Thurs 1:44 a.m.|
|8. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)||Ophir||Thurs 1:57 a.m.||Thurs 2:08 a.m.|
|9. Mille Porsild||Ophir||Thurs 2:53 a.m.||Thurs 2:58 a.m.|
|10. Hunter Keefe (R)||Ophir||Thurs 4:24 a.m.||Thurs 4:28 a.m.|
March 8 - 8:16 p.m.
Iditarod finisher Ragnar takes a rest on the trail
Mille Porsild of Denmark has experience running dog teams across the arctic, so it’s safe to say she knows when a dog needs a break from the trail. That’s why she came into the Nikolai checkpoint yesterday with 11 dogs in harness — and one relaxing in the sled itself.
Ragnar wasn’t injured — he just wanted to rest, not run — so Porsild decided to drop him at the checkpoint.
“He’s a phenomenal dog. He’s chilling when he’s chilling, and he’s wound up and wild when he’s wound up and wild,” Porsild said. “He did his first Iditarod last year, he made it to Nome, just ran close with me, screaming at the finish line.”
Ragnar is one of 3 dogs that Porsild has dropped since the start of the race, having left two dogs at the Rohn checkpoint as well. She said all three were some of the strongest on her team, and that dropping them was a “bummer”.
Ragnar the 4-year-old husky is already an Iditarod finisher, having completed the race in 2022. After being dropped at the Nikolai checkpoint, Ragnar — and all the other dropped dogs — receive a flight back to Anchorage where team handlers await.
Since Porsild’s strategy for this race is simply to “fly by the seat of her pants”, she had no firm plans regarding when to rest or who to drop from the team.
March 8 - 7:43 p.m.
Petit discusses strategy shakeup
Perennial frontrunner Nic Petit made the decision to take the longest layover of the race at the checkpoint in Nikolai, just 263 miles into the race.
“It’s not about setting up, it’s about not cooking my dogs,” Petit said to the Alaska’s News Source trail team at the McGrath checkpoint. “I like hot dogs, just not my dog as a hot dog.”
Following their extended stay in Nikolai, Petit says his team is “calm and happy” and likewise, he’s glad to see the pace the well-rested dogs are able to maintain.
March 8 - 6:19 p.m.
Red Lantern musher leaves Nikolai checkpoint
One of the traditions of the Iditarod that continues today is honoring the last musher to cross the finish line who is also known as the Red Lantern.
According to the Iditarod website, the Red Lantern tradition began with a different dogsled race, 1958′s Fur Rendezvous Race. It was later adopted by Iditarod founders to act as a symbol of perseverance so rather than being disappointed with a last-place finish, most mushers are excited to be recognized for their accomplishments.
As of this evening, the race’s current Red Lantern musher is Michael Williams Jr. of Akiak. Prior to the race, Williams told reporters that he didn’t plan to run a competitive race, instead using the long runs between checkpoints to train his dog team for Bethel’s Kuskokwim 300 race.
If Williams retains the final race position until crossing the finish line, he will receive an award that includes a $1,000 prize.
March 8 - 3:43 p.m.
A broken sled won’t hold back Gerhardt Thiart
Making his second attempt to take his dog team under the Burled Arch in Nome, Gerhard Thiart has referred to his 2023 race as “unfinished business.” Thiart’s philosophical spirit shined through in his interview about what it’s like to run the race he’s dreamed of for decades.
One of the things that keeps Thiart motivated during the arduous trek is the relationship he develops with the dogs.
“The trust, bond of trust between dog and man, and man and dog ... that’s why,” Thiart said.
Thiart told the Alaska’s News Source trail team that he’s using this race in Alaska to raise awareness and funding for poacher-hunting dogs in his native South Africa — dogs helping dogs, he calls it. Check out the video below for more musings from Gerhardt Thiart.
March 8 - 3:20 p.m.
Marrs leads pack outside Ophir
Wade Marrs left the Ophir checkpoint at 9:24 a.m. Wednesday morning and passed through, opting for a trailside rest after the 23-mile trek from Takotna. With 12 dogs in harness, Marrs rested for almost 4 hours while Jessie Holmes and Brent Sass took one of their required rests at Ophir.
March 8 - 1:25 p.m.
Entire field resting except Petit and Naaktgeboren
All of the mushers on the Iditarod trail are currently resting their teams with only two exceptions — Big Lake’s Nic Petit and Fairbanks’ Deke Naaktgeboren.
Petit shook up traditional race strategy by taking his required 24-hour rest early in the race at the Nikolai checkpoint. Taking the required rest earlier on the trail means that Petit should be able to pass leaders taking their rest break at checkpoints like Shageluk or Eagle. It’s also a strategy employed by 1992 race winner Martin Buser — and it hasn’t been attempted since.
Naaktgeboren stopped in a rainy McGrath after a long overnight run and a good night’s sleep, he told Iditarod Insider.
“So when I got here, I felt pretty good,” Naaktgeboren said. “So I think it’s going to be here for a few hours, have some coffee, and go on over to Ophir for my 24 — hopefully make prime rib night in Ophir.”
Dogs teams from around the Fairbanks area, which train in temperatures that can reach minus 60 degrees in with wind chill, are adjusting to the difference in temperatures on the trail.
“The day the Iditarod started, it was minus 37 degrees where they live,” Naaktgeboren said. “They’re also very furry — I refer to them as Yukon Quest dogs versus Iditarod dogs — so we’re taking a lot of extra rest during the heat of the day, like between 11 a.m. and 4 and 5 p.m., and it’s kind of frustrating just to sit there. But when they’re panting laying down on their straw, I don’t believe we should be mushing them.”
Fellow Fairbanks musher Riley Dyche opted to take his 24-hour stop in McGrath. Dyche told Iditarod Insider that he originally planned to take his longest rest in Takotna or McGrath, but opted to change his schedule to avoid daytime heat as well.
March 8 - 12:27 p.m.
Alaska’s News Source trail crew in Nikolai
Alaska’s News Source’s Beth Verge is on the Iditarod trail getting up close and personal with Iditarod mushers, volunteers — and yes, even the dogs. Beth will be tracking the latest race developments and gathering the stories you want to hear and of course, the dogs.
March 8 - 12:17 p.m.
Meet Dan Kaduce’s Asian food litter
Musher Dan Kaduce met some of our trail crew in Rainy Pass where he was resting his team in the warm weather. Kaduce’s exemplary dog care made him the only musher in 2022 — and the only musher since Jessie Royer in 2017 — to finish with all the dogs that he started with still in harness. His dogs also have some of the most delicious names on the trail.
March 8 - 10:50 a.m.
Marrs jumps into lead while others rest
Wade Marrs has taken the lead of the 51st Iditarod, according to the official Iditarod GPS tracker, leapfrogging the top dogs as he continues to push on the southern route of the trail with his sights set on the ghost town checkpoint of Iditarod.
While Jessie Holmes, Brent Sass and Aaron Peck all stopped to rest in Ophir and assumedly take their mandatory 24-hour layover, Marrs passed by through Ophir at 9:13 a.m. to take the lead, although he has yet to clock his 24-hour rest.
It means that the rest of the pack will likely overtake Marrs at some point Thursday, once the self-described “Knik Kid” makes his twice-around-the-clock layover.
March 8 - 9:25 a.m.
Peck stops in Ophir with other leaders
Aaron Peck of Grand Prairie, Alberta, joined race leaders Brent Sass and Jessie Holmes in Ophir early Wednesday morning, as it appears the trio may be taking their required 24-hour layovers. The only musher who has spent their 24-hour rest is Nicolas Petit, who is currently running 30th out of 32 mushers on the trail.
Peck got into Ophir at 7:24 a.m., over 7 1/2 hours after Holmes first reached the checkpoint, which begins the southern route of the trail.
Wade Marrs of Wasilla is also moving up through the field, making it to fourth place, a few hours behind Peck, as of Wednesday morning. Marrs checked in and out of Takotna at 6:28 a.m., spending just two minutes at the checkpoint.
March 8 - 6:55 a.m.
Holmes, Sass rest in Ophir as Peck runs overnight
Jessie Holmes and Brent Sass arrived in Ophir around midnight, just 35 minutes apart as they rest their dog teams.
Holmes made the 23-mile trip from Takotna to Ophir in just under three hours, showing up at the checkpoint at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday night with 12 dogs. Sass, the defending race champion, arrived at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday with 11 dogs in harness.
Holmes and Sass both suggested in interviews with Iditarod Insider earlier in the race that Ophir would be the site of their mandatory 24-hour layover.
While contenders like Ryan Redington, Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser all took rests in Takotna late Tuesday night, veteran Aaron Peck kept going through the night and passed several teams. Peck, a Canadian musher with nine previous Iditarods under his belt, blew through Takotna just before 5 a.m. Wednesday with 13 dogs to take third place on the trail.
|1. Jessie Holmes||Ophir||Tues 11:45 p.m.|
|2. Brent Sass||Ophir||Wed 12:20 a.m.|
|3. Aaron Peck||Takotna||Wed 4:48 a.m.||Wed 4:52 a.m.|
|4. Ryan Redington||Takotna||Tues 8:34 p.m.|
|5. Richie Diehl||Takotna||Tues 8:49 p.m.|
|6. Pete Kaiser||Takotna||Tues 10:11 p.m.|
|7. Matthew Failor||Takotna||Tues 10:26 p.m.|
|8. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)||Takotna||Tues 10:53 p.m.|
|9. Mille Porsild||Takotna||Tues 11:11 p.m.|
|10. Hunter Keefe (R)||Takotna||Wed 1:20 a.m.|
Diehl, a 36-year-old from Aniak, sped through the McGrath checkpoint in around two minutes, but not before stopping to hug a few young family members.
Diehl is currently running fifth and is looking to improve on his career-best finish of sixth from last year, a feat he first accomplished in the 2018 race.
March 7 - 9:00 p.m.
Emotional goodbye as Holmes drops a dog in McGrath
Mushers develop close relationships with the dogs on their teams, relying on the animals to keep them moving on the trail.
When Jessie Holmes made it to the McGrath checkpoint, he had to make the heartbreaking choice to drop his beloved dog Nola. Nola was part of Holmes’ third-place team in the 2022 race.
March 7 - 8:35 p.m.
Redington receives award and speeds through McGrath checkpoint
Ryan Redington checked into the McGrath checkpoint and received his new mitts and hat before grabbing a drop bag of supplies and hitting the trail again. Watch his entire checkpoint stop in the video below.
March 7 - 6:19 p.m.
Redington first to McGrath, wins Spirit of Iditarod award
Ryan Redington is the first musher into the McGrath checkpoint, arriving at 6:10 p.m. with 12 dogs in harness, staying for only three minutes.
Redington is also the recipient of the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award, which comes with it some special prizes handmade by residents of McGrath — a pair of beaver mitts made by Loretta Maillelle of McGrath, and a beaver hat made by Rosalie Egrass.
But Redington won’t be the award’s only recipient. The last musher through the McGrath checkpoint will also be honored, and will receive a pair of mitts made by Lucy Miller of Alaskan Raven Beauties constructed of both beaver hide and waterproof canvas duck fabric.
Headed into the checkpoint after Redington was Jessie Holmes with 13 dogs in harness. Holmes had been resting on the trail until he was approached by a pack of mushers — including Richie Diehl, Brent Sass and Kelly Maixner— led by Redington.
March 7 - 6:05 p.m.
Teacher on the Trail checks in from Nikolai checkpoint
As part of their education program, the Iditarod selects one educator from a pool of applicants to be Teacher on the Trail for each race. The teachers ride with members of the volunteer-led Iditarod Air Force to checkpoints along the Iditarod trail and experience firsthand the educational possibilities of a long-distance dog sled trek.
New York teacher and librarian Juli Westrich is this year’s educator on the expedition.
“I thought that I had seen the Iditarod — being at the ceremonial start, being at the restart — but getting out here, this is seeing what actually happens, this is really getting a firsthand glimpse of the race,” Westrich said.
Watch the video below to hear more for Westrich on the ways teachers integrate the lessons of Iditarod in the classroom.
March 7 - 3:22 p.m.
Chase pack approaching leader Holmes on the trail
Jessie Holmes has been resting on the trail outside of the McGrath checkpoint for several hours, likely reserving his team’s strength during the warmest and sunniest hours of the day. In hot pursuit are the four teams of Ryan Redington, Richie Diehl, Brent Sass and Kelly Maixner, who are roughly five miles behind Holmes.
March 7 - 12:35 p.m.
Redington out of Nikolai
According to the Iditarod.com GPS race trackers, Ryan Redington has left Nikolai checkpoint with 12 dogs in harness.
Mushers drop dogs for a variety of reasons, including fatigue, injury or unhappiness. Most mushers err on the side of caution when it comes to the animals they consider their teammates, dropping any dogs that appear to be favoring a limb or paw or are reluctant to eat the large amounts of food they need on the trail. Mushers have to finish with at least six dogs in harness.
March 7 - 9:45 a.m.
Holmes, Sass duel for lead on way to McGrath
Jessie Holmes and defending champion Brent Sass left the checkpoint of Nikolai and are on the way to McGrath as they duel for the lead in Iditarod 51.
Holmes, a musher out of Brushkana, left the checkpoint at 8:45 a.m. with 12 dogs leading the way, while Sass followed behind by five minutes with 14 dogs in harness.
GPS tracking of the race shows Sass leading the way after the duo left the South Fork Kuskokwim River.
Holmes has three top-10 finishes in the Last Great Race, including a third-place result last year.
March 7 - 8:10 a.m.
Petit first musher to Nikolai, declares 24-hour rest
Nicolas Petit reached the checkpoint of Nikolai just before 7 a.m. Tuesday morning with 12 dogs in harness, traversing the 75-mile stretch from Rohn in just over 8 1/2 hours. Upon arriving, Petit declared that he would be taking his mandatory 24-hour layover to rest his team, according to Iditarod.com.
Behind Petit is a pack of racers, including Knik’s Ryan Redington, Big Lake’s Kelly Maixner, Aniak’s Richie Diehl and defending race champion Brent Sass of Eureka.
Nikolai sits 263 miles into the 998-mile race and overlooks the South Fork Kuskokwim River.
Petit is searching for his first Iditarod victory after racking up six top-10s over eight race finishes, including a high of second place in 2018.
|1. Nicolas Petit||Nikolai||6:57 a.m. Tues|
|2. Ryan Redington||Rohn||6:14 p.m. Mon||6:32 p.m. Mon|
|3. Jessie Holmes||Rohn||7:00 p.m. Mon||7:10 p.m. Mon|
|4. Brent Sass||Rohn||7:01 p.m. Mon||7:13 p.m. Mon|
|5. Kelly Maixner||Rohn||7:19 p.m. Mon||7:26 p.m. Mon|
Eddie Burke Jr. is the top running rookie in the field in seventh place as of Tuesday morning.
March 6 - 10:06 p.m.
Jennifer LaBar is first scratch of the race
Rookie musher Jennifer LaBar of Healy has scratched from the race at the Rainy Pass checkpoint due to injury.
Earlier in the day, LaBar injured fingers on her left hand.
LaBar was racing with bib number 13 and had 13 healthy dogs in harness at the time of her scratch, which came later in the evening after reaching Rainy Pass at 1:41 p.m. Monday.
March 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Redington blasts through Rohn on the way to Nikolai, Deeter repairs sled
After just 18 minutes of rest, Ryan Redington passed through the Rohn checkpoint, where Petit has been resting since his arrival. Jessie Holmes arrived at Rohn at 7:00 p.m. with Brent Sass close behind, checking in just one minute later. Yet both Holmes and Sass wasted no time at the checkpoint, with both back on the trail by 7:13 p.m.
Back at the Rainy Pass checkpoint, Wade Marrs told Iditarod Insider that he took the last of the infamous Happy River steps incorrectly.
“I didn’t wreck, but I did go down the bottom step the wrong way and kind off fell off a drop-off, that was exciting,” Marrs said.
Marrs indicated that he planned to rest his team until after sunset, when cooler temperatures will be better suited for the dogs, who train in much colder temperatures.
One musher that didn’t fare as well through the steps is KattiJo Deeter of Fairbanks, who already had to dispatch one danger on the trail — a tree — after a freak accident with her snow hook broke her sled in two places.
“Leaving Finger Lake is always wild, and the steps are wild, but I think that this happened after the steps,” Deeter said.
“That section of trail is pretty technical, and I tipped my sled off to the right kind of out of a corner and my hook jumped off my sled and grabbed a tree and just stopped me, dead, like instantly stopped,” “I had to cut the tree down to get my hook off. The hook was in the tree probably half an inch.”
The power of the team pulling against the snow-hooked sled snapped two of the stanchions on Deeter’s sled. Although mushers are not allowed outside assistance, they are allowed to repair broken equipment. Deeter paused to repair the broken stanchions on her sled.
“Other than my sled being broken, I’m having a good race, I was on my schedule and the team was doing that and looking good. It’s frustrating now to be off that schedule and going to have to kind of think about how I want to change it up, maybe — or don’t worry about it and just be happy about getting to the finish line.”
March 6 - 4:30 p.m.
Nic Petit first musher to Rohn
Nic Petit checked into the Rohn checkpointed at 4:19 p.m. on Monday afternoon with 12 dogs in harness. Petit’s team reached speeds of nearly 11 mph on the run that follows the Tatina River north from Rainy Pass, making the trek in four hours and 2 minutes.
Typically this checkpoint is the start of colder conditions along the remainder of the Iditarod Trail, but current temperatures — hovering around 32 degrees — are unseasonably warm. This could cause trouble for teams on the trail, as the dogs are used to training and running in much cooler weather. Mushers will have to take extra care to ensure their dogs stay hydrated and keep body temperatures under control as they take on the Farewell Burn.
March 6 - 2:23 p.m.
Porsild, Petit, Kaiser now lead pack
Nic Petit has overtaken Mille Porsild in the last couple of miles, and Pete Kaiser following closely behind. The trio has passed the four resting teams of Richie Diehl, Brent Sass, Matthew Failor and Jessie Holmes.
March 6 - 1:53 p.m.
Porsild and Petit lead the pack between Rainy Pass and Rohn
Denmark’s Mille Porsild has taken the lead after passing Jessie Holmes, Brent Sass and Richie Diehl, who are all resting their teams along the trail. A short distance behind Porsild is fellow European Nic Petit. Porsild still has all 14 dogs she started with in harness, while Petit has dropped two dogs.
March 6 - 1:03 p.m.
Redington, Deeter, Watkins discuss their dog teams
Ryan Redington’s dog Wildfire’s almost miraculous recovery following an accident is a testament to how much mushers will do for their dogs. KattiJo Deeter is running with two dogs who fell in love last summer, and Bridgett Watkins has a Golden Harness winner from her parents’ kennel on the team.
March 6 - 12:40 p.m.
Sass takes a pass for the lead
Brent Sass has taken the race lead, passing a running Richie Diehl and a resting Jessie Holmes near the intersection of Pass Creek and Happy River between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints. Diehl has 13 dogs in harness.
March 6 - 12:20 p.m.
A three-way race to be the first musher into Rohn is underway
Jessie Holmes blasted through Rainy Pass with 14 dogs in harness, staying at the checkpoint a mere six minutes and leaving at 10:46 a.m. Right on Holmes’ tail are Brent Sass and Richie Diehl, both of whom stayed at the checkpoint for just four minutes each before heading towards Rohn.
The top mushers in the race are currently Holmes, Sass and Diehl, followed by Ryan Redington, Hunter Keefe, Dan Kaduce, Nicolas Petit, Aaron Peck and Mille Porsild. Petit, Peck and Porsild all left the Finger Lake checkpoint between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Redington, Keefe, Kaduce and Petit are resting in Rainy Pass.
Four mushers — rookies Bridgett Watkins, Bailey Vitello, Gregg Vitello and veteran Eric Kelly — checked out of Skwentna before 6 a,m. and are still making the 40-mile run to Finger Lake.
March 6 — 9 a.m.
The Alaska’s News Source chase team is on their way to the Iditarod trail!
News Director Tracy Sabo and trail reporter Beth Verge take off from Anchorage with Rust Flying Service pilot Chris Palm on Monday morning.
March 6 — 7:15 a.m.
Defending race champion leads the way early Monday morning
Brent Sass leads Iditarod 51 early Monday morning, passing through the Finger Lake checkpoint for just a quick minute. Sass left Finger Lake at 4:09 a.m. after a 4 hour, 25 minute run from Skwentna with 14 dogs leading the way.
Jessie Holmes led the race into Finger Lake, arriving just six minutes ahead of Sass, but remained at the checkpoint while others passed by.
Behind Sass, Nic Petit runs second, just over an hour behind Sass. Petit departed Finger Lake at 5:15 a.m.
Ryan Redington runs third, another hour behind Petit, departing the checkpoint at 6:10 a.m.
Finger Lake is the third official checkpoint along the timed race route, 123 miles into the 998-mile trail.
|1. Brent Sass||Finger Lake||4:08 a.m.||4:09 a.m.|
|2. Nicolas Petit||Finger Lake||5:07 a.m.||5:15 a.m.|
|3. Ryan Redington||Finger Lake||6:02 a.m.||6:10 a.m.|
|4. Hunter Keefe (R)||Finger Lake||6:10 a.m.||6:22 a.m.|
|5. Jessie Holmes||Finger Lake||4:02 a.m.|
|6. Richie Diehl||Finger Lake||4:58 a.m.|
|7. Mille Porsild||Finger Lake||5:25 a.m.|
|8. Matthew Failor||Finger Lake||6:08 a.m.|
|9. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)||Finger Lake||6:25 a.m.|
|10. KattiJo Deeter (R)||Finger Lake||6:48 a.m.|
March 5 — 5:56 p.m.
Austin Sjong reports from Willow
Alaska’s News Source sports reporter Austin Sjong reports from the beginning of the Iditarod Trail in Willow.
March 5 — 3:19 p.m.
All 33 mushers are on the trail
The last four mushers ― Aaron Peck, Michael Williams Jr., Peter Kaiser and Deke Naaktgeboren ― have officially begun the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. All together in this year’s race, 24 of the 33 teams hail from Alaska.
Kaiser is one of just two returning champions in this year’s race, along with Brent Sass. Kaiser, from Bethel, along with Williams Jr., of Akiak, are both representing Southwest Alaska.
Naaktgeboren began mushing in 2008, and his hobbies include “being a dad, fixing things and mowing the lawn.” He finished 29th last year.
March 5 — 3:19 p.m.
Wade Marrs, Gregg Vitello and Christian Turner are off
Wade is one of the younger mushers this year at just 32 years old.
A rookie, Vitello will be racing against his son in this year’s race. He’s back after taking a few years off to support his son’s team.
March 5 — 2:51 p.m.
Kelly Maixner, Ramey Smyth, Joanna Jagow, Jessie Royer and Jed Stephensen begin
Big Lake musher Kelly Maixner is originally from North Dakota and is running his ninth Iditarod, with his previous best being a 13th-place finish in 2015.
Ramey Smyth is no stranger to sled dog racing, with both parents racing the Iditarod decades before their son, who is in his 27th Iditarod with a best finish of third in 2008 and 2012.
Two years ago, Joanna Jagow of Two Rivers, Alaska, finished 29th in the Last Great Race and is back for more.
Veteran musher from Montana, Jessie Royer, is running her 20th Iditarod and is looking to break through after consecutive podium finishes in 2019 and 2020, both third-place results.
Rookie Jed Stephensen of Idaho doesn’t have any previous Iditarod experience, but is one of only four mushers ever to finish the Rocky Mountain Triple Crown; a series of three sled dog races in Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
March 5 — 2:48 p.m.
Jason Mackey, Riley Dyche and Gerhardt Thiart begin the Iditarod
Mackey is the brother of the 2023 Iditarod Honorary Musher Lance Mackey.
Dyche started running dogs in Leadville, Colorado, and moved to Alaska in 2015. He started his own kennel the following year and ran to a 25th-place finish in the 2020 Iditarod.
Thiart is one of the few foreigners in the race. Last year he ran Mitch Seavey’s “puppy team” but did not finish. He said he has “unfinished business” to handle in this year’s Iditarod. There are now 22 mushers on the trail.
March 5 — 2:32 p.m.
Eric Kelly, Eddie Burke Jr. and Bridgett Watkins are on the trail
Both Burke Jr. and Watkins are rookies in this year’s race.
March 5 — 2:31 p.m.
Brent Sass, Richie Diehl, Matthew Failor begin
The defending champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is out of the chute and on the trail, as well as Diehl and Failor. There are now 16 mushers on the trail.
March 5 — 2:25 p.m.
Dan Kaduce, Hunter Keefe and Jennifer LaBar begin
Both Keefe and LaBar are rookies in this year’s race. LaBar says she fell in love with long-distance adventures after hiking the Appalachian Trail. Since 2015, she has been raising her own dogs.
March 5 — 2:20 p.m.
Anna Berington, Nicolas Petit, KattiJo Deeter start
Anna Berington, Nicolas Petit and KattiJo Detter are off. Both Petit and Detter have also spent time mushing dogs in the summer in Southeast Alaska, where tours take place on top of the Juneau Icefield.
March 5 — 2:15 p.m.
Matt Hall is off
Matt Hall, of Two Rivers, is the seventh musher out of the chute. Hall guides sled dog tours on the Denver and Mendenhall glaciers in Southeast Alaska in the summer. His best finish in the Iditarod is 26th place.
March 5 — 2:05 p.m.
First three racers are off
The first racers are on the Iditarod Trail! Jessie Holmes, Bailey Vitello and Mille Porsild have all exited the chute of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race official restart.
March 5 — 11:15 a.m.
Joe Bartosik’s forecast for Willow and the beginning of the Iditarod Trail
Alaska’s News Source meteorologist Joe Bartosik shares his forecast for today’s conditions along the beginning of the Iditarod Trail.
March 5 — 11:08 a.m.
The 2023 Iditarod restart begins at 2 p.m. today in Willow behind the Willow Community Center. This will be the last opportunity for some spectators to see live Iditarod action. The start of the race traverses numerous bodies of water including Long Lake, Crystal Lake and Vera Lake before heading over to the Susitna and Yentna rivers.
March 4 — 1:39 p.m.
View from the chute
Alaska’s News Source photojournalist Mike Nederbrock shares the 360 degree view of the starting chute for Iditarod 2023.
March 4 — 12:41 p.m.
Melissa Frey’s forecast for Anchorage and Willow
Alaska’s News Source chief meteorologist Melissa Frey has an update on what mushers can expect for tomorrow’s race restart in Willow.
March 4 — 11:20 a.m.
Deke Naaktgeboren is the final musher to leave the starting line
Fairbanks musher Deke Naaktgeboren is the final musher to leave the starting chute at the ceremonial start of the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Naaktgeboren, who drew bib number 34, hopes the auspicious number is a good sign.
“It’s Nolan Ryan’s number in baseball, and I named my son after Nolan Ryan so that may be a good omen — The Express,” Naaktgeboren said.
March 4 — 11:12 a.m.
Aaron Peck, Michael Williams, Jr, Pete Kaiser off to a good start
Canadian Aaron Peck hopes to be the first musher from that country to win the Iditarod. The 2019 Herbie Nayokpuk award winner will see if his tenth start will be the winning one.
Veteran Michael Williams, Jr will be running his eighth Iditarod with a team of dogs that haven’t run many distance races. Williams will be running his dogs cautiously, but with years of mushing history.
2019 race winner Pete Kaiser is starting his 14th Iditarod and has finished in the top ten half of that time.
March 4 — 11:05 a.m.
Wade Marrs, Gregg Vitello, Christian Turner start their races
Wade Marrs, who grew up around the Redington family, returned from his new home of Wisconsin to run the race he’s finished 11 times before. Marrs has been a top-10 finisher four times.
Gregg Vitello of Milan, New Hampshire says his rookie team is “goofy and happy-go-lucky.” Vitello says he set a goal to run the Iditarod 25 years ago, and raised the dogs he and son Bailey are running.
Australian Christian Turner is making his third Iditarod attempt, having fallen in love with running dogs after working at Seavey’s Iditaride. Turner last ran the race in 2015, and will be running dogs from Mitch Seavey’s kennel this year.
“It’s an addictive sport, I just love being out in the wilderness,” Turner said.
March 4 — 10:59 a.m.
Joanna Jagow, Jessie Royer, Jed Stephensen out of the chute
Rookie Joanna Jagow grew up running dogs on her parent’s trapline on the Porcupine River. She moved to Fairbanks and attended UAF before picking up running dogs for sport.
Jessie Royer grew up on a Montana cattle ranch and won that state’s toughest race at age 17. She’s raised 7 generations of dogs and is running with a team full of dogs she raised herself.
“Some of these dogs I have on my team, I have raced their great-great grandparents,” Royer said.
Rookie Jed Stephensen trained with Iditarod veterans Linwood Fiedler and Gabe Dunham for the race he has has wanted to run since he was a child.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was nine years old, so it’s been a long time coming,” Stephensen said.”
March 4 — 10:53 a.m.
Gerhardt Thiart, Kelly Maixner, Ramey Smyth start race
South African musher Gerhardt Thiart had to scratch from last year’s race just miles from the finish line and says this race is all about that “unfinished business.”
“It is a journey me and my wife began 20, 22 years ago,” Thiart said. The dogs he will be running this race are part of Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey’s “B” team
Big Lake’s Kelly Maixner also has Seavey dogs in harness, running Dallas Seavey’s “A” team. “I just love being out there in the middle of nowhere by myself with the dogs, quietly moving along the trail, seeing things no one else gets to see,” Maixner said.
Ramey Smyth comes from another storied family of mushing, with mother Lolly Medley being one of the first women to run an Iditarod race. His father Bud and brother Cim have also finished the grueling race.
March 4 — 10:47 a.m.
Eddie Burke Jr, Bridgett Watkins, Jason Mackey hit the trail
Eddie Burke Jr, former football player for Service High School, trains out of Nenana. Burke won this year’s Joe Redington Memorial Knik 200.
Emergency room nurse Bridgett Watkins broke her collarbone during last year’s race and had to be rescued during a blizzard. Watkins is the daughter of distance musher Allen Moore and the stepdaughter of Aliy Zirkle. Riding in her tow sled is the widow of Alaska Court Services Officer Curtis Worland who was recently killed by a musk ox. Watkins will also be taking some of Officer Worland’s ashes back to Nome, where his family lived.
Veteran Jason Mackey comes from a historic mushing family, with brother Lance and father Dick both winning the Last Great Race. Despite selling his kennel in 2017, Mackey has returned to mushing and hopes to finish his seventh Iditarod this year.
March 4 — 10:35 a.m.
Richie Diehl, Matthew Failor, Eric Kelly leave starting line
Race veteran Richie Diehl, who recently became a father, is next out of the chute.
Matthew Failor had moose issues last year that he hopes to leave behind, having to dispatch a moose both in training and during the race. Failor and wife Liz — who met on the Iditarod trail — are expecting a baby boy soon.
Musher Eric Kelly’s 34th place finish last year was supposed to be his only Iditarod finish, but he’s been bitten by the mushing bug. After last year’s race, Kelly turned to his wife and said he’s going to do it again.
March 4 — 10:29 a.m.
Dan Kaduce, Hunter Keefe, Jennifer LaBar out of the chute
2010 rookie of the year Dan Kaduce, who finished last year’s race at an all-time high at 4th place, leaves the chute ahead of a pair of newcomers.
Race rookie Hunter Keefe, originally from Michigan, has the unique honor of running a team of dogs raised by Ramey Redington, son of Iditarod race founder Joe Redington, Sr.
Fellow rookie Jennifer LaBar of Healy is excited to make her first trip down the historic Iditarod Trail with a team of dogs she raised herself.
March 4 — 10:21 a.m.
Anna Berington, Nic Petit, KattiJo Deeter head out of the chute
Anna Berington — who describes her team as a “potpourri of puppies” — follows her sister out of the chute.
Perennial frontrunner Nic Petit of Big Lake says his goal for this race isn’t necessarily a win.
“We want to finish with the happiest-looking dog team, that’s always the goal. that’s it, that’s all I care about,” Petit said.
KattiJo Deeter is one of several mushers who had to be rescued during a blizzard at the end of last year’s race and still wants to become an official race finisher. A belt buckle and license plate are waiting for Deeter, and any other rookies who are able to complete the race and pass under the burled arch in Nome.
March 4 — 10:16 a.m.
Ryan Redington, Kristy Berington, Matt Hall leave chute
Ryan Redington, Kristy Berington and Matt Hall have left the starting chute.
Berington, who usually travels along the trail with her sister Anna, says that even if there wasn’t a race, she’d still be out on the runners.
“Even if there was no Iditarod, I’d still be doing this,” Berington said.
March 4 — 10:07 a.m.
Jessie Holmes, Bailey Vitello, Mille Porsild first to leave chute
Jessie Holmes has left the starting chute in Downtown Anchorage. Holmes, who lives in rural Alaska, was injured on the Bering Sea coast when assisting a community that had been affected by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok in September. Fellow musher Brent Sass was able to rescue Holmes from underneath boards from a building that fell onto him.
Rookie from Milan, New Hampshire Bailey Vitello — racing along with his father Gregg Vitello — follows veteran Holmes out of the chute.
Following the rookie is the veteran Mille Porsild, who endured treacherous blizzard conditions in the final miles of the 2022 race.
March 4 — 10:01 a.m.
Honorary musher leaves the starting chute
The first musher has left the chute, Junior Iditarod winner Emily Robinson. With Robinson is one of Lance Mackey’s children, honoring the four-time winner who is this year’s honorary musher.
March 4 — 9:49 a.m.
Ryan Redington continues family legacy, aims for first win
With 15 Iditarod starts already under his belt, Ryan Redington would be the most accomplished musher in his family — if he’d been born into any other family.
The Iditarod was founded by Redington’s grandfather Joe Redington Sr., and the family is still active in mushing today. There have been at least six Redingtons to start an Iditarod race and another generation already rising up through the junior ranks of dog sled racing.
“It’s important to have a Redington in the race, I feel like, and I’m honored to be in the race,” Redington said. “First place trophy is a 90 pound bronze statue of my grandpa and that’s the dream, is to bring home that trophy of him.”
March 4 — 9:35 a.m.
2022 race winner Brent Sass is ready for another adventure
After securing the 2022 Iditarod win, Brent Sass is excited to bring his team back to the starting line.
“I’m really excited about the dog team, it’s another adventure, you know we look forward to this race all season long and you do all these mid-distance races and you train all season, but it’s really just for this race, so it’s great to finally be here,” Sass said. “Once they say go, it’s on the vacation begins.”
Watch the video below to hear about the team Brent Sass is putting together for this year’s race.
March 4 — 9:24 a.m.
Race veteran Richie Diehl ready for southern route
The race alternates between the southern and northern routes, with the southern route being used in odd-numbered years. Even for veterans of the race like Aniak’s Richie Diehl, the unfamiliarity of the trail may present challenges.
“Well I mean, it’s the southern route, so you’re definitely looking at things differently than the northern route,” Diehl said. “A lot of times, southern route you have a little more weather going up the Yukon anyway — I mean I’ve only done it four times, we haven’t done the southern route many times. A lot of times it’s a softer trail too, just kind of got to factor that in and take it as it comes and adjust if you need to.”
Richie also talks about how being a dad has influenced how he competes.
March 4 — 9:07 a.m.
Winner of Junior Iditarod ready for race honors
Fifteen-year-old Emily Robinson of Nenana has the honor of driving the sled representing this year’s honorary musher, Lance Mackey. Mackey, the 4-time Iditarod champ who died in September of 2022 following a recurrence of cancer, will be honored as the race’s honorary musher.
Robinson is excited to close out her race season with such a unique opportunity -- to leave the starting line of the Iditarod without the next thousand miles on her mind.
“Going out first, ahead of all the other Iditarod mushers, this is like my party time right now, no sort of stress right now whereas all the Iditarod mushers are looking forward to tomorrow like ‘it’s going to be another 10 days out there’ right now.”
March 4 — 8:30 a.m.
Aaron Peck says Alaskans are why he keeps coming back to race
Mushers and their teams are waking up and getting ready for the Ceremonial Start of the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Among them was Grand Prairie, Alberta’s Aaron Peck, who is returning for his 10th Iditarod.
“Alaska, Alaskans, I love Alaska, I love the people here. The trail is so diverse and amazing up to Nome, you can’t get enough,” Peck said.
“It’s definitely like nothing else in the sled dog sports world,” Peck said. “From here the next 11 miles, there’s gonna be thousands of people out along the side of the trail. I compare it to like the Tour de France, when you’re going over the mountain summit and the crowd has to part the way, because you can’t even see the trail everyone’s leaning over to see the dogs.”
March 4 — 8:30 a.m.
Meet the Alaska’s News Source trail team
The reporters bringing you coverage of this year’s race from the Iditarod trail: Austin Sjong, Jordan Rodenberger, Beth Verge, Carly Schreck.
The digital producers bringing you coverage of this year’s race online: Shannon Cole, Paul Choate, Joey Klecka, Nolin Ainsworth.
Follow complete race coverage online at Alaska’s News Source’s Iditarod section.
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