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All Iron Dogs racers rest and repair in Nome

crowd on sea ice
Family and friends cluster around Racer fresh into Nome. Photo by Miriam Trujillo, KNOM [2022].

Record-breaking, yet difficult trail conditions didn’t stop the 21 racers still in the Iron Dog Race from all checking into Nome by the night of Monday, Feb. 21. With the first team coming in at 2:17 p.m., and the last team checking in at 10:42 p.m., Feb. 21 was a busy day in Nome.

The varying conditions created a race which multiple veterans who’ve competed in Iron Dog for fifteen to twenty years “are all in agreement… (this) is by far the toughest one yet,” Nome Race Marshall Steve Swenson said.

“The moisture content is very high in the snow. We had to reroute the first thirteen or so miles from the Menard’s Building to big Lake because of water on the trail. We did have some water out on the ice yesterday that a couple trail class riders got hung up in… but all in all, yeah, a massive snow coverage,” Swenson said.

So far, eight pro-class teams have scratched and, considering the weather conditions, that is fewer teams than Swenson would have expected, he said.

So far, no team has announced an intention to scratch while in Nome.

While the racers are resting in Nome, the top five teams in the lead are as follows: in first position, and the first to arrive into Nome is Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad, team 7.  Team 14, Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie, who consider this race to be a rematch after a mechanical breakdown just 20 miles from the finish line cost them the championship last year, are in second position.

In third position is Nome’s own Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, team number 10.  While teams 9 and 49, Shane Barber and Troy Conlon, and Andrew Gumley and Klinton VanWingerden respectively, are in 4th and 5th position.

The racers will be spending the rest of the day getting some food, water and rest in and working on their machines, Swenson said. As per the race rules, racers can only make mechanical repairs while on the clock.

“Today is inspection day where they all have fifteen minutes to inspect their machines, but they’re not allowed to work on them. And then if they need parts, they source their parts. And then they’ll go on the clock if they choose to work on their machines. Then they’ll be  back off the clock when their work is completed,” Swenson said.

All racers are required to attend the halfway banquet held at Nome’s Mini Convention center this evening. Racers, however, still have more than half of the trail left to cover once they leave Nome, since the return route adds an additional 461 miles with the Red Dog Loop.

The race will restart the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 23 and, according to Swenson, they will unofficially be aiming for a 9-9:30 a.m. start depending on weather conditions.

Image at top: Family and friends cluster around racer fresh into Nome. Photo by Miriam Trujillo, KNOM [2022].

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