In a first for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race, the top three finishers are each Alaska Native, with deep family ties to rural parts of the state.
This year’s champion, Ryan Redington, is the sixth Alaska Native to win the Iditarod. Since the race’s beginning in 1973, competitive long-distance mushing has gradually morphed from a kind of wilderness husbandry to a professionalized sport, with most top-tier mushers clustered on Alaska’s road system.
- Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl crossed the finish line about an hour apart Tuesday afternoon in second and third place, respectively, after a tight final push along the sea ice to Nome. Kaiser, who is Yup’ik, hails from Bethel, and Diehl, who is Dena’ina Athabascan, is from Aniak — two communities on the Kuskokwim River in rural Southwest Alaska.
- “There’s not a lot of Alaska Native teams in the race to begin with,” Kaiser said after his second-place finish. “I think there’s maybe four of us this year with Mike Williams Jr., if I’m correct. So, to have three out of four in the top three is — I mean, it’s almost unheard of.”