3 Alaska Native mushers lead the charge to Iditarod finish line

a musher on a sled
Ryan Redington arrives at the remote Iditarod checkpoint on March 9, 2023. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

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 White Mountain on Monday. They pulled in at 4:12 p.m., with just 77 miles to go until Nome. All teams must take an eight-hour stop at the checkpoint.

Redington has a several-hour lead over his closest competitors.

Redington was closely followed into the prior checkpoint, Elim, by Pete Kaiser of Bethel and his eight dogs Monday morning. But after arriving at 9:02 a.m., Kaiser chose to rest in Elim. Aniak’s Richie Diehl also stopped in Elim at 12:06 p.m.

Redington’s lead grew as the mushers’ stops lengthened.

According to the race standings, Kaiser stayed in Elim for five hours and 20 minutes, pulling out with eight dogs at 2:22 p.m., four minutes after Diehl.

Pete Kaiser mixes up a warm meal for his dogs in Kaltag on March 11, 2023. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

White Mountain is almost 50 miles from Elim.

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. 

a trophy
A trophy of Joe Redington Sr. — known as the father of the Iditarod — awaits the champion at the finisher’s banquet in Nome in 2018. Joe Redington Sr. is Ryan Redington’s grandfather. (KNOM)

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.

Richie Diehl in Unalakleet on March 12, 2023. (Ben Matheson/Alaska Public Media)

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Tegan Hanlon is the digital managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447. Read more about Tegan here.

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