Alaska News

Iditarod co-founder's grandson will be the first on the race trail

A Redington will lead the pack to start the 45th edition of the Iditarod.

Ryan Redington, grandson of race co-founder Joe Redington Sr., drew bib No. 2 Thursday at the musher's banquet at the Dena'ina Center. He'll start behind honorary musher Leo Rasmussen in Saturday's ceremonial start in Anchorage, and he'll lead the other 72 mushers again at Monday's restart in Fairbanks.

"It hasn't sunk in yet, but I've been racing dogs for a long time and … it's pretty exciting," said Redington, who will be racing against his brothers, Robert and Ray. "Forty-fifth anniversary, for (a) Redington to start the race out is pretty awesome."

Following Redington will be a pair of Iditarod rookies from outside the United States. Otto Balough of Budapest, Hungary, and Misha Wiljes of Prague, Czech Republic, will go out next with bibs No. 3 and 4, respectively.

[Expect deep snow and minus-27 chill for Fairbanks start of Iditarod]

Defending champion Dallas Seavey and his father, Mitch Seavey, will start two spots apart.

Dallas, who is going for his fifth championship and fourth straight, drew bib No. 18. Mitch, whose second-place finish last year was also the second fastest Iditarod time, picked No. 16.

"I expect us to be together a long time on the race, so I think that's pretty cool," Mitch said. "We're gonna key off each other. Starting close together is pretty fun."

Dallas said he was shooting for bib No. 6, but he likes his No. 18 bib.

"Anything that's a smaller number I prefer, but it doesn't make a big difference," he said. "It's the dog team that wins the race, not a bib number.

Dallas said his strategy in this year's race is simple: run his dog team.

"I have control over how well I care for my team — that's what I'm going to focus on," he said. "I wish all the other competitors the best of luck and I hope this is a great race right to the bitter end."

Another four-time champion, Martin Buser, will start right ahead of Mitch with bib No. 15. Fellow four-time winner Jeff King drew bib No. 34.

Aliy Zirkle, last year's third-place finisher who has five consecutive top-five finishes, drew No. 41 — a lucky number, according to a couple of her fans.

"Forty-one was my football number," one fan told her. "I was born in '41," said another.

"Lucky No. 41," Zirkle said with a laugh. "This gentleman right here says it's a winning number. I am not going to argue with him."

The last musher to hit the trail will be Kristy Berington, running her eighth Iditarod. Berington said she doesn't mind starting last, she's just glad she's starting close to her twin sister, Anna, who drew bib No. 66.

"We enjoy running together, so obviously I wanted numbers really close together," Berington said.  "We'll make the most of it and we plan to run the trail together so it will be a lot of fun."

Before the draw started, longtime Iditarod sponsor Rod Udd, who died in January at age 78, was honored with a tribute video. Mushers will race with Udd's initials on their bibs during this year's race.

The Iditarod's ceremonial start will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Fourth Avenue and D Street. The restart for the 1,000-mile sled dog race to Nome will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Fairbanks.

[Watching the Iditarod start on TV]

Mushers bib list / start order

Check out a gallery of 2017 Iditarod mushers with a breakdown of their historic performances here.

2 Ryan Redington

3 Otto Balogh

4 Misha Wiljes

5 Cody Strathe

6 Linwood Fiedler

7 Laura Neese

8 Ryan Anderson

9 Michelle Phillips

10 Roger Lee

11 Ketil Reitan

12 Joe Carson

13 Sebastien Vergnaud

14 Ray Redington Jr

15 Martin Buser

16 Mitch Seavey

17 Kristin Bacon

18 Dallas Seavey

19 Gunnar Johnson

20 Karin Hendrickson

21 Richie Diehl

22 DeeDee Jonrowe

23 Mark Selland

24 Nicolas Petit

25 Peter Kaiser

26 Nicolas Vanier

27 Rick Casillo

28 Jodi Bailey

29 Wade Marrs

30 Ellen Halverson

31 Cindy Abbott

32 Hans Gatt

33 Mats Pettersson

34 Jeff King

35 Alan Eischens

36 Allen Moore

37 Jessie Royer

38 Joar Leifseth Ulsom

39 Ralph Johannessen

40 Thomas Rosenbloom

41 Aliy Zirkle

42 Zoya DeNure

43 Jimmy Lebling

44 Ramey Smyth

45 Lars Monsen

46 Charley Bejna

47 Paul Hansen

48 Justin High

49 Justin Stielstra

50 Hugh Neff

51 Seth Barnes

52 Katherine Keith

53 Peter Reuter

54 Geir Idar Hjelvik

55 Matthew Failor

56 Melissa Stewart

57 Paul Gebhardt

58 Monica Zappa

59 Ken Anderson

60 Dave Branholm

61 Michael Baker

62 Nathan Schroeder

63 Noah Burmeister

64 Jason Mackey

65 John Baker

66 Anna Berington

67 Trent Herbst

68 Mark May

69 Scott Smith

70 Robert Redington

71 Larry Daugherty

72 Dave Delcourt

73 Kristy Berington

Stephan Wiebe

Stephan Wiebe writes about all things Alaska sports.