Ryan Redington, the 2023 Iditarod champion, mushes along the trail of the ceremonial start with a rider who made the winning bid to be on his sled for the ceremonial start. Photo by Mary Pemberton

Thirty-eight mushers are off and running with their dog teams in the Last Great Race, the 52nd running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, from Willow to Nome. 

This year’s pack includes:  

  • Five-time champion Dallas Seavey, of Talkeetna, a third-generation musher who grew up helping his dad, Mitch Seavey (himself a three-time Iditarod champion);  
  • Ryan Redington, of Knik, grandson of Joe Redington Sr., the Father of the Iditarod, and son of 14-time Iditarod finisher Raymie Redington (himself the 2023 Iditarod champion);  
  • And Peter Kaiser, of Bethel, winner of the 2019 Iditarod. 

As of Monday, March 4, all three were among the 10 mushers leading the way out of Rainy Pass, with Seavey in first place, Redington in fourth and Kaiser in sixth. 

Travis Beals of Seward was in second place; Jessie Holmes of Brushkana in third place; Hunter Keefe,of Knik, in fifth place; Aaron Burmeister, of Nome/Nenana, seventh; Mats Pettersson, of Sweden, eighth; Mille Porsild, of Denmark, ninth; and Matt Hall, of Two Rivers, 10th place. 

All are Iditarod veterans, but Keefe, in his first Iditarod in 2023, placed 11th in the race, earning  $21,000 in prize money, unusual for a rookie. He was also awarded the 2023 Sportsmanship Award. This year again he is running a dog team provided by Raymie Redington. 

The competition overall includes the three champions, among 22 race veterans and 16 rookies, who collectively represent five nations and seven state. Eleven of them are women and 27 men. 

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The Iditarod, which begins every year on the first weekend of March, got its start in 1973, when Joe Redington Sr. asked a couple of friends to help him create the event. The first race attracted 34 mushers, 22 of whom completed the race. 

In advance of the real race start, each year several thousand dog mushing fans gather in Anchorage for the Saturday ceremonial start on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, lining the streets of Anchorage and beyond along the trail to cheer the mushers on. Bystanders include kids eager to collect dog booties from mushers and snap photos of them as they mush on. Then on Sunday the mushers, their dogs and the crowd of fans move to Willow in the Matanuksa Valley to head out on the real Iditarod Trail. Race director Mark Nordman said he was happy this year with  the number of mushers totaling just 38. 

Along with several hundred fans lined up on the trail leading from the race start, there are dozens more camped out along the trail, also cheering the mushers on. 

The weather cooperated nicely for the ceremonial start this year with temperatures in the low teens under sunny skies, while at Willow the temperatures stayed about the same under cloudy skies, as teams of huskies pounded the snowy trail, raring to go to Nome. 

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