This article by Tegan Hanlon was originally published by Alaska Public Media. It was republished with permission through a partnership with KNOM.
Three Alaska Native mushers are leading the charge to Nome in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Ryan Redington of Knik and his eight-dog team were the first into and out of the Elim checkpoint on Monday morning. They left at 8:48 a.m., after stopping just 13 minutes. Elim is at race mile 875.
Redington was closely followed into Elim by Pete Kaiser of Bethel and his eight dogs at 9:02 a.m. Kaiser opted to rest longer in Elim and, according to the race GPS, was still at the checkpoint by 12:15 p.m.
Aniak’s Richie Diehl was also stopped in Elim. Diehl and his eight dogs pulled in at 12:06 p.m.
From Elim, the mushers head to White Mountain, almost 50 miles further down the trail.
All teams must take an eight-hour stop in White Mountain before the final, 77-mile push to the Nome finish line.
Back in Grayling on Friday, Redington said he’s good friends with Kaiser and Diehl, and said they’ve both taught him a lot in the Iditarod.
Before this year, Redington’s best Iditarod finish was seventh in 2021. Redington splits his time between Knik and Wisconsin. He has deep roots in the Iditarod. His grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., is one of the race founders. His dad, Raymie Redington, has raced a dozen Iditarods, and his two brothers have also competed.
Diehl’s best finish is sixth in both 2022 and 2018. And Kaiser has been a consistent top performer, placing in the top 10 in seven of his 13 Iditarods. Kaiser also became the first Yup’ik musher to win the Iditarod in 2019.
As of Monday afternoon, a total of 30 teams remained in the Iditarod, stretched over about 250 miles of trail.
A 2023 Iditarod winner is expected Tuesday morning.
Image at top: Ryan Redington arrives at the remote Iditarod checkpoint on March 9, 2023. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)