Redington is first out of safety, just 22 miles from the Iditarod finish line

a team of dogs
Ryan Redington arrives at White Mountain at 4:12 p.m. Tuesday. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

Update, Tuesday 11 a.m.:

Ryan Redington and his team of six dogs left the final security checkpoint in first place at 8:22 a.m. Tuesday. They only had 22 miles before the finish line.

Redington’s closest competitors are Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl. Kaiser and his eight dogs left the previous White Mountain checkpoint just over four hours after Redington. Kaiser cut that gap by nearly half by the time he reached safety, at around two hours and 20 minutes.

Diehl was within 10 miles of Safety at 11 a.m., according to the GPS plotter.

Original story:

WHITE MOUNTAIN — Church bells and a small cheering crowd welcomed Ryan Redington and his eight dogs to White Mountain on Monday afternoon.

Redington immediately put his dogs down on straw beds after running about 90 miles from Koyuk, stopping at Elim for only 13 minutes on the way. All teams must stop for eight hours at White Mountain before their final push to Nome.

Redington was happy with the break.

“I’m really tired and I have a bit of leg cramps,” he said. “I’m really excited for the rest here, the eight hours.”

a musher watches his dogs
Ryan Redington immediately puts straw for his dogs upon arriving at the checkpoint. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

The afternoon sun broke through the fog at the checkpoint on the banks of the Fish River. Redington scooped up several loads of cold water from a hole in the ice to prepare a hot, chewy meal for his team.

Redington said he hadn’t yet realized he was in a position to win his first Iditarod.

“I try not to think about it too much, but we have a huge lead,” he said. “But we still have 77 miles to go.”

That lead increased on Monday when Redington’s closest competitor, Pete Kaiser, stopped for more than five hours at Elim, while Redington continued to head for White Mountain.

“I didn’t know if Pete was going to pass or not, so I decided to have a good run in Nome,” Redington said.

a musher brings water to his team of dogs
Ryan Redington fetches water for his team. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

After his long break at Elim, Kaiser made up some time on the way to White Mountain – but not a ton. He was still more than four hours behind Redington in reaching the checkpoint.

Kaiser and his eight dogs arrived at 8:29 p.m. He fed his team and settled down to rest. He recalled that he had two separate plans as he approached Elim.

“Plan A, if the team looked solid, was to pass. Plan B, if they needed a rest, was to stay there, so it was like a 50/50,” a- he declared.

Kaiser chose plan B.

“They felt like they needed a little extra rest and took that chance and said, ‘I’m going to stop chasing Ryan for now and give them the rest they need'” , did he declare.

a musher
Bethel musher Pete Kaiser checks in at White Mountain at 8:29 p.m. Monday. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

If anything unexpected happened to Redington’s team on the notoriously unpredictable coast, Kaiser said he wanted to have a well-rested squad.

Perhaps the tightest race on the podium will be for second place. Kaiser holds a razor-thin margin over Richie Diehl, who raced at White Mountain just eight minutes after Kaiser came on. Diehl said he was having fun as he aimed for a top-three finish in his 11th Iditarod.

“To compete at this level, for me anyway – I like it, it’s a riot. I mean that’s why I race,” he said.

Diehl, Kaiser, and Redington are all good friends, and they’re all Alaska Native mushers, too. Redington praised his closest competitors for teaching him a lot at the Iditarod races.

a team of dogs
Musher Aniak Richie Diehl arrives at White Mountain at 8:37 p.m. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

All three teams surged forward after some big shakeups in the second half of the race.

At Eagle Island on Saturday, defending champion Brent Sass – who had led much of the race – retired with a bad cold and three cracked teeth. Then Jessie Holmes, another early race leader, saw her team start to slow down.

Redington saw his opening and ran away, with Kaiser and Diehl close behind.

Redington went further by doing two marathons in the final 300 miles of the race – without stopping as his rivals cut the track into smaller sections.

“We had to work really hard to get to this position,” Redington said. “I knew we had a good dog team. That’s for sure.”

Prior to this year, Redington’s best result was seventh in 2021.

It’s rare for the order of finish to change drastically between White Mountain and Nome, but sudden storms and brutal winds rumbled the momentum of future champions.

Redington has several leaders who can get the team to Nome on the tough stretches of windy, unprotected trails, including Ghost, Elvis, Sven and Rivet.

“They’re smooth runners and I just feel like we’ve worked hard to train them and get them ready for this race,” Redington said.

This race was generations to go for Redington. His grandfather Joe Redington Sr. is considered one of the founders of the Iditarod. His father Raymie has completed several Iditarods and is one of six Redingtons in his extended family listed in the Iditarod records.

Ryan Redington said he would be proud to be the first in his family to win.

“That would be a really cool honor. And that would be a really good thing for racing and Alaska and for my family,” Redington said. “A grandfather of quite significant events began here.”

And if Redington finishes first, he will have the honor of winning a trophy bearing his grandfather’s name.

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Ben Matheson covers the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race for Alaska Public Media. Contact him at

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