March 15 9:16 am Ray Redington Jr into Nome
Fans mill around the finish chute in Nome, a steady breeze off the sea, parka hoods all up, subdued morning light, and a siren that signals the arrival of Ray Redington, Jr and team. He will be position 7 in this year’s race and part of a family and friends all influenced by his redoubtable father Raymie Redington. Standing at the chute, Raymie muses, “I have never seen a race where the leader (MItch SEavey) is a hundred miles ahead of the top ten. He ran a heck of a race.” Ray is the first of the Redington’s to finish this year’s Iditarod.
Ray Redington Jr. has now completed his 17th Iditarod—if I counted so many races correctly—-and placed top ten innumerably. He is part of a very extended family of Alaskan’s from his Grandfather Joe Redington, Sr. the titular founder of the Iditarod, to his uncles, father, and cousins that have all completed the Last Great Race on Earth. Ryan Redington and Robert Redington are still on the trail and yet to finish.
At the hub of this colony of mushers resides Barb and Raymie Redington, whose home is a constantly circulating stream of friends and family who rely on their good will and insight. Barb is practical and organized and Raymie has such a sense of humor that you are almost laughing before you shake his hand. I have known both for years and their uncommon empathy and generosity is legendary. They have influenced, literally, dozens of mushers who rely on them for advice and comfort. Nic Petit, the third place finsiher this year, came to Alaska with nothing in his pocket, one dog to his name, ADN acknowledges without hesitation that Barb and Ray literally changed his life with their support.
Take a look at the great confluence of Aliy Zirkle and Pete Kaiser on the trail into Nome. These thrillers into the finish, with these two mushers only a half mile apart, at times are true grit. Pete Kaiser, who is presently following Aliy, must exercise all his mushing skills to eclipse Aliy with an upset. To do it he must now only put the team into a momentum to sling shot ahead of Aliy but have the leaders that will make a pass—not an easy thing to do at the end of a 1000 miles.