With new strategies in arsenal, veteran musher Ryan Redington chasing first Iditarod win

There’s a long way to go in Iditarod 51, but Redington has a plan he hopes will bring him his first title
With new strategies in arsenal, veteran musher Ryan Redington chasing first Iditarod win
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:48 PM AKDT
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NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - With an early bib draw, veteran musher Ryan Redington was the fifth musher right out of the gate at the ceremonial start and restart of Iditarod 51.

By the time he and his dogs reached the Rainy Pass checkpoint, more than 150 miles into the race, the musher seemed happy with his team, at least for the most part.

“It’s going good,” he said at the checkpoint early last week. “It’s early yet, but the dogs are getting good rest here, and we’ll go through Rohn, and hopefully that section goes good, too.”

He quickly established his position toward the front of the pack, though he said he was questioning whether or not he made the absolute best possible decision on a final roster for the race.

“I decided to take a couple (dogs) that I thought would help me the best,” he said of splitting some of the potential racers between his team and that of rookie Hunter Keefe. “But maybe I decided wrong.”

That checkpoint and those thoughts, however, seem to be well behind Redington. The trail hasn’t come without other challenges, either, including some often seen out on the trail. Redington broke a runner before hitting Nikolai, a common issue, and elected to switch to a new sled later, too.

The team has gotten a boost here and there, though, not only through a bit of rest both inside and outside of checkpoints, but also via some of the awards Redington has already claimed along the trail.

So far, he’s won multiple trailside prizes, including a pair of handmade mittens for the Spirit of Iditarod Award he received in McGrath.

Redington’s spirits were still high by the halfway point in old town Iditarod. He has been having a lot of fun, he said, but realizes “anything can happen.”

The team was outside the first few teams into Iditarod, but after regaining his most recent lead, he has held on, at one point trailed by another team by not even more than a mile. His competitors, namely 2019 Champion Pete Kaiser and recent Kuskokwim 300 winner Richie Diehl, have stayed hot on his tail.

“Those two are the best there is at hunting people down,” Redington said, “but I’m enjoying being the hunted here, and yeah, I’m aware they’re coming, and it’s going to be fun to try to fight them off.”

This time, though, the grandson of Joe Redington, Sr. — the elder Redington, known as the Father of the Iditarod — has new strategies in his arsenal.

“It’s pretty cool to be here,” Redington said from Unalakleet. “I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandpa and a lot about my dad, and I’m pretty happy that I chose the path to be a musher, just like them.”

He said most of the pressure he feels comes from himself.

Now, pushing a record pace, and closing in on Nome, he’s hoping to finally take the title home.

“I wanna bring home the trophy for the family and for me, but it’s a long ways to go to Nome yet,” Redington said. “But if you’re going to win this thing, you gotta be in a position like this. We might not, but we are sure having fun trying and enjoying what we’re doing so far.”

Redington has checked into White Mountain and was first to arrive. Pete Kaiser, Richie Diehl and Matt Hall have joined him as of press time.