Racers in the 2018 Iron Dog will now start heading out from Nome four hours earlier than planned, starting at 4 a.m. Friday morning.
Race marshal Nate Perkins says it’s a matter of keeping things on schedule, after the race was held for 30 hours in Unalakleet on Tuesday due to weather conditions:
We’re kicking them out at 4:00 because we need to get them on the trail in ample enough time to allow 14 hours of layover and still have a daylight finish on Saturday.
The 14 hours of layover can be taken all at once or divided into two separate layovers of six and eight hours. Perkins says the original intent was to allow only 10 hours of layover en route to Fairbanks, down from the 28 hours that the rules stipulate. But racers opted for additional layover time to rest, or in case they need to work on their snowmachines.
Technical issues are what caused 2016 champions Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson to fall behind coming into Nome, according to Aklestad. The pair finished in sixth position after leading for most of the first half of the 2000-mile snowmachine race. Aklestad says things were going well until just outside Elim:
We started to have some codes go off on one of the sleds, and we could only go about a couple miles at a time and then stop, shut things down, cool it down, try to get it to get going again. So it’s just unfortunate to lose an hour and a half in the last hundred or so miles into here, but that’s how it goes.
Aklestad says they think they have a quick fix for the problem. And they had time, along with the other teams, to do snowmachine maintenance today at Nome’s Public Works garage.
Brad George was at the busy garage Thursday afternoon. He and partner Robby Schachle, of Team 6, finished in second position yesterday. George says everything’s up in the air for the second half of the race, especially with shorter layover times:
It’s going to be dog-eat-dog, and there’s going to be guys getting tired, there’s going to be carnage. It’s going to turn Iron Dog into a real race for once. This has been something that’s, honestly, if you ask me, needed to happen for a long time.
George and Schachle will head out around 4:23 in the morning, since they arrived 23 minutes behind the first finishing team, Nome’s Mike Morgan and partner Chris Olds. Leaving third will be Team 16, Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, around 4:50 am.
The rest of the 23 teams still in the race will be released from the restart line, near Nome’s East End Park, according to their intervals coming into Nome, with some adjustments if those intervals were longer than 30 minutes.
Tune into KNOM at 4:00 am tomorrow for live coverage of the 2018 Iron Dog race restart, or catch an update on the 7, 8 and 9 am newscasts.
Image at top: Casey Boylan of Team 14 (left) and Brad George of Team 6 at Nome’s Public Works garage during layover maintenance work (Photo: Zoe Grueskin, KNOM)