Aklestad and Olstad first to Nome in fast-paced Iron Dog race

Half-way finishers on the sea ice

Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of team 7 were first into Nome at 2:18 p.m. on Monday Feb. 21, a day ahead of what was originally anticipated. The Iron Dog organization has labeled this year’s trail “record-breaking fast.”

Aklestad told KNOM Radio he’s been having a relatively smooth ride so far into the 2,600 mile race.

“Obviously can’t complain. We’re sitting in a pretty good spot, technically, here at what is technically considered the halfway-ish,” Aklestad said. “And the sleds are clean, and had a pretty good first three days; this is the third day. So everything has been going good.”

That means no mechanical issues for the race leaders so far. But that certainly wasn’t the case last year when Aklestad and Olstad had to scratch early on in the race due to a mechanical issue that happened on day one in Puntilla.

There is still roughly 1,600 miles left in the race and Aklestad emphasized that anything could happen.

“It’s still one checkpoint at a time. And as you can see going on behind us, anything can happen to anybody, so we just got to keep chugging along,” Aklestad stated.

He is referring to multiple teams scratching earlier on Feb. 21, and one reportedly catching fire outside of Galena. By 3:30 p.m., 22 out of 28 teams remained in the race.

Aklestad of team 7, the current race leaders, attributed their position to running their own race and not changing it based on other teams.

“That’s one key thing in this race, the race is ahead of you, it’s not behind you. So don’t get caught up in that. I don’t know what’s going on back there. I don’t know what they did. We didn’t change anything, we just kind of cruised and kept our pace, and it worked out,” Aklestad explained.

The second team to reach Nome was Brad George and Robby Schachle who checked into the halfway point at 2:50 p.m., more than 30 minutes behind the race leaders. According to the leaderboard they are in third position, while team #10 of Mike Morgan and Chris Olds are currently in second position based on total course time. Team #10 checked into Nome just before 3:30 p.m.

Race officials say the race restart from Nome will take place Wednesday morning, and the exact time will be announced later tomorrow.

Image at top: Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of team 7 in the 2022 Iron Dog are the first team to arrive into Nome. Photo from Davis Hovey, KNOM (2022)