Ryan Redington wins 2023 Iditarod

Ryan Redington reflects on 2023 Iditarod win
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 12:15 PM AKDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:44 AM AKDT
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NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - Ryan Redington passed under the Burled Arch Tuesday afternoon to win the 51st running of the Iditarod.

The grandson of the man known as the “Father of the Iditarod,” Redington arrived in Nome at 12:12 p.m. with a winning time of 8 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes, and 58 seconds.

“It felt very special, especially having the big crowd cheering us on,” Redington said after the celebration began to finally die down. “And to have a Redington win the race, finally, is really special.”

Redington took the win ahead of Bethel musher Pete Kaiser and Aniak musher Richie Diehl, both of whom engaged in a battle for second, some 15 miles behind Redington.

Kaiser ended up taking second, shaving almost a full hour off Redington’s time from Safety to Nome, but still coming up short by 1 hour, 24 minutes, to finish in a total time of 8 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes, 40 seconds.

Diehl rounded out the podium in third, finishing at 2:40 p.m. and breaking the nine-day mark with a total time of 8 days, 23 hours, 40 minutes, 20 seconds.

The top three mushers were also Alaska Native, a first in the 51-year history of the race, with winner Redington being Inupiat, Kaiser being Yup’ik, and Diehl being Dena’ina Athabaskan.

MusherCheckpointInFinal time
1. Ryan RedingtonIn NomeTues 12:12 p.m.8d 21h 12m 58s
2. Pete KaiserIn NomeTues 1:36 p.m.8d 22h 36m 40s
3. Richie DiehlIn NomeTues 2:40 p.m.8d 23h 40m 20s
4. Matt HallIn NomeTues 5:21 p.m.9d 2h 21m 57s
5. Jessie HolmesIn NomeTues 7:08 p.m.9d 4h 8m 53s
6. Kelly MaixnerIn NomeTues 8:00 p.m.9d 5h 0m 15s
7. Eddie Burke Jr. (R)In NomeTues 11:37 p.m.9d 8h 37m 54s
8. Matthew FailorIn NomeWed 12:20 a.m.9d 9h 20m 36s
9. Mille PorsildIn NomeWed 3:42 a.m.9d 12h 42m 32s
10. Wade MarrsIn NomeWed 4:07 a.m.9d 13h 7m 56s

Redington staked his claim in the history of the Last Great Race by becoming the first in his family to capture victory.

Redington’s grandfather, Joe Redington Sr. — known as the “Father of the Iditarod” — never won the race but was instrumental in organizing and fundraising for the inaugural race in 1973, and is considered the leading man in popularizing and modernizing the sport of dog mushing in Alaska. Joe Sr. ran 19 Iditarods between 1974 and 1997 with a best finish of fifth, which he accomplished four times.

Four other Redington family members have raced, including Ryan’s father Raymie, who ran the race 12 times with a high finish of seventh in 1974. Raymie last ran the race in 2001, Ryan’s rookie year.

Before Tuesday, the highest any Redington family member had finished was third, which Ryan’s uncle Joee accomplished in 1975.

The momentous occasion had been building for years, as Ryan struggled to finish Iditarod races before eventually becoming a solid contender. Redington didn’t make the finish six times from 2008 to 2019, but has since strung together three straight top-10s over the last three years, including his best finish of seventh in 2021.

“We knew we had a really good dog team,” he said. “Just a really great, great opportunity to go into the race and have a veteran team, and know we could go into the race for a win was something different.”

The 40-year-old musher got a big boost earlier in the race when one of the race favorites, defending champion Brent Sass, scratched from the race in Eagle Island with his own health issues, just 406 miles from the finish.

That opened up the race for others to capture a rare victory.

Redington said his resting strategy for his team proved to be key to the victory, saying he rested two extra hours in the checkpoint of Nikolai.

“Just a little bit more patient on my speed, and setting them up for a strong run in the second half of the race, and we were able to achieve that,” he said. “Just perfectly planned, everything came together really well.”

Even before the race started with the Ceremonial Start in Downtown Anchorage on March 4 and the official restart in Willow on March 5, Redington had dreams of winning the Last Great Race. Redington said he was aiming for a top-5 finish this year, but said a victory would be the ultimate experience.

“It’s important to have a Redington in the race, I feel like, and I’m honored to be in the race,” he said in Anchorage on March 4. “The first place trophy is a 90-pound bronze statue of my grandpa, and that’s the dream, is to bring home that trophy.”

While he never has won the Iditarod until now, Redington has tallied wins in other premier mushing events, including twice in the Kobuk 440 and twice in the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Minnesota.