Ryan Redington drove his six huskies in harnesses under the burled arch in Nome on Tuesday to win the 51st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the culmination of a dream he’s had since he was a boy growing up in the dog mushing community of Knik, Alaska.
He completed the route in eight days, 21 hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds.
It was his 15th Iditarod in a race founded by his grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., and a high point in a mushing career that saw him having to scratch from the race seven times, but also finish in the top 10 in the last three years.
With the victory, Redington will collect the largest percentage of the $500,000 purse for this year’s race. On his way to Nome, he also won the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award, the Bristol Bay Native Corp. Fish First Award, the Ryan Air Gold Coast Award, the Northrim Bank Achieve More Award, and the Nome Kennel Club Fastest Time from Safety to Nome award. Earnings from those awards total $5,000 in cash, $1,000 in gold nuggets, and 25 pounds of salmon.
Among the several hundred fans waiting to congratulate him at the finish line were his parents, Barb and Raymie Redington, his niece Ellen, and her brother Isaac, who completed the Junior Iditarod Trail Race in February. They are the children of his brother Ray Redington, an Iditarod top 10 finisher in years past, and his wife Julia. The couple met years ago as competitors in the Junior Iditarod.
Rookie musher Hunter Keefe, who was among the top 10 finishers, trained at the kennel of Raymie and Barb Redington.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I’ve been a very small child,” Redington, the new champion, said at the finish line.
“All of the Iditarod Trail Committee are so happy for this historical win for Ryan, the Redington family and all of Iditarod Nation,” said Shannon Noonan, marketing and communications director for the Iditarod Trail Committee.
“It is difficult to fully express the magnitude of Ryan’s win today,” said Rob Urbach, chief executive officer for the race. “His grandfather envisioned the Iditarod 51 years ago and Ryan’s fully honored the Redington legacy with grit, determination and love for his dogs that will inspire not only future generations of Redington mushers, but all of Iditarod Nation.”
Redington won the Junior Iditarod in 1999 and 2000, and was the Rookie of the Year in 2017. He is one of six Redingtons to have finished the race since it began 50 years ago.
Redington divides his time between training his dogs in Brule, Wisconsin, and Alaska, competing in races in the Midwest and Alaska. In summer months he offers sled dog tours in the ski resort community of Girdwood.