MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A snowmobile hit-and-run in northern Wisconsin has left two sled dogs, one of whom ran the Iditarod last year, injured.
Ryan Redington, the Alaskan musher who won the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in 2018 and 2020, told the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office Saturday that he was out with his dogs when a snowmobile driver allegedly veered near him, sped up, and struck his team.
The dogs were running on the Tri-County Corridor trail. It was around 6:45 p.m., and all the dogs were either wearing blinking or reflective harnesses.
Redington said he tipped his sled to avoid the collision, but wheel dog Wildfire was thrown into the air. He was left with his leg broken in three places. Another dog, Willy, who led Redington’s team to victory in the 2021 Kobuk440, survived with a bruised foreleg. The snowmobile driver stopped for a moment, and then sped off.
Redington’s training partner Sarah Keefer was running her team a few minutes behind, and encountered the same driver, who approached her dogs, but allegedly swerved at the last second, narrowly avoiding another crash.
Keefer then caught up to Redington, and the two called for help.
Wildfire underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair his broken leg. Redington wrote on Facebook that the 3-year-old has a “long road to recovery.” He was was on the winning team of the 2021 Jr. Iditarod, and finished the 846 mile 2021 Iditarod in seventh place.
Willy is limping, but should be able to get back to training in two to three weeks.
A GoFundMe to help with Wildfire’s surgery costs has raised roughly $37,000 as of Wednesday morning.