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Beargrease champion Ryan Redington drops out of Iditarod

2018 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon champion Ryan Redington shares a moment with Archer while Rumba sniffs a snack after finishing the race on Jan. 31. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com

Musher Ryan Redington, based out of Northwestern Wisconsin, has dropped out of Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, making the decision “in the best interest of the health and welfare of his race team,” according to race officials.

Redington had 11 dogs left on his team when he decided to drop out shortly before 9 p.m. Alaska time Sunday at the Kaltag checkpoint, about 650 miles into the 1,000-mile sled dog race that officially started March 5 in Willow.

Redington dropped out after the 122-mile leg from Grayling to Kaltag — the race’s longest leg, which can take mushers and teams a full day or more to complete. It took Redington 27 hours to complete the leg.

Redington, the grandson of Iditarod founder Joe Redington Sr., won the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this year. Redington was competing in the Iditarod this year with two of his brothers, Robert Redington and Ray Redington Jr., both of Wasilla, Alaska. Robert dropped out of the Iditarod on Saturday and Ray was running in fifth place in the race as of Monday evening.

Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom, who finished fourth in last year's Iditarod, was leading the race as of Monday evening; he was the first to reach Koyuk, 827 miles into the race, at about 1 p.m. Monday. Nicolas Petit arrived at Koyuk just over an hour later.

Port Wing natives and twin sisters Kristy and Anna Berington, now based in Knik, Alaska, were still on the Iditarod trail on Monday evening. Anna was in 28th place, at the Unalakleet checkpoint, 737 miles into the race; Kristy was in 38th place, on the trail from Kaltag to Unalakleet.