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Co-founder’s grandson wins 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

First held in 1973, Ryan Redington’s grandfather — Joe Redington Sr. — is known as the ‘Father of the Iditarod’ and is a co-founder of the race that his grandson won 51 years later

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Ryan Redington poses with his lead dogs Sven, left, and Ghost, after he won the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 14, 2023 in Nome, Alaska. Redington, 40, is the grandson of Joe Redington Sr., who helped co-found the arduous race across Alaska that was first held in 1973 and is known as the “Father of the Iditarod.”

Ryan Redington poses with his lead dogs Sven, left, and Ghost, after he won the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 14, 2023 in Nome, Alaska. Redington, 40, is the grandson of Joe Redington Sr., who helped co-found the arduous race across Alaska that was first held in 1973 and is known as the “Father of the Iditarod.”

Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News via Associated Press

On Tuesday, Ryan Redington, 40, crossed the finish line, winning the 51st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Championship.

In his race bio, Redington said he had “big shoes to fill,” seeing that his grandfather, his dad Rayme, and his Uncle Joee are in the Mushing Hall of Fame, reported The Associated Press.

The first Iditarod race took place in 1973 and has been an annual event since. It was co-founded by Redington’s grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., who is known as the “Father of the Iditarod,” according to the race’s history. While Redington Sr. died of cancer in 1999, his memory “lives on in the lives of all the mushers, volunteers, and fans.”

And what better way to honor his grandfather’s memory than winning the race he helped create?

The sled dog race started with 33 mushers and ran from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nome, Alaska, in a 998-mile stretch that started on March 3, per the race’s official website. Redington finished the race in eight days, 21 hours, and 58 seconds, crossing the finish line on March 14 at 12:13 p.m. with his six-dog team — led by 6-year-old Ghost and 4-year-old Sven.

Two more mushers crossed the finish line within two hours of Redington, per AP.

Northern News Now posted a video of the mushers’ winning stretch on Nome’s main street.

“It is difficult to fully express the magnitude of Ryan’s win today; 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,” Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach said in a release.

Since Redington was a young boy, winning the race has been his dream, reported AP. He’s participated in the race 15 other times — this is his 16th time competing.

“It took a lot work, took a lot of patience. And we failed quite a few times, you know? But we kept our head up high and stuck with the dream,” he said in his winning speech recorded by KTUU.