Redington: Beargrease training brought Iditarod success

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Nearly two weeks have gone by since Ryan Redington crossed the Iditarod finish line, winning “The Last Great Race” for the first time.

He splits his time between Brule, Wis., and Alaska. And he credited the training he and fellow musher Sarah Keefer did in northern Wisconsin for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

“It was an amazing training year in Wisconsin this year, good snow and temperatures 20-30 above zero most of the winter. And it was just perfect. We didn’t lose any training due to weather,” Redington said. “It was a huge part of our success for Iditarod was how Sarah and Dan (Klein) were able to race the dogs in the Beargrease. And those Beargrease hills helped make them strong.”

Redington did not race in the Beargrease himself, but Sarah Keefer and Dan Klein ran two teams of his dogs. Keefer finished third and Klein scratched.

One of his dogs, Wildfire, got a lot of attention when he finished the Beargrease. Wildfire’s leg was broken when he was hit by a snowmobiler shortly before the Beargrease in 2022. The dog made a miraculous comeback and ran all 300 miles of the Beargrease Marathon. He started the Iditarod too but had to be dropped.

“Yeah, he’s an amazing, amazing dog. And it was so awesome to have him on the team for Iditarod. He might have stepped in a hole and gotten a little sore, but he’s doing very good now,” Redington said.

Redington’s Iditarod win is historic, and he said it “still feels like a dream.”

“My grandpa Joe Redington, Sr. started the Iditarod in 1973,” he said, “and first place in the Iditarod gets a 90-pound bronze statue of my grandpa.”

Despite his grandpa running the race 19 times, his dad 14, his brother 17 times, another brother four, and an uncle a couple, nobody with the Redington name has ever won.

“We’ve all been working towards this, and it’s an incredible win for the Redington family,” Ryan Redington said.

He and Keefer hopped on a plane to Hawaii to celebrate finishing the racing season.