Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad continued to lead the Iron Dog pack on Feb. 21, arriving in Nome at 2:17 p.m. amid blizzard conditions. The other top three teams maintained their positions on the leaderboard as well. Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie, in second position, were the third team to make it to Nome, and arrived 40 minutes after Aklestand and Olstad, at 2:59 p.m. Chris Olds and Nome’s own Mike Morgan pulled in half an hour later, at 3:29 p.m.
The rest of the top five saw some changes. Cody Barber and Brett Lapham, who KNOM previously reported as being in fourth position on the morning of Feb. 21, in fact scratched out Sunday night at 10:34 p.m. Shane Barber and Troy Conlon are now in fourth position; they checked into Nome at 5:09 p.m. on Feb. 21. Andrew Gumley and Klinton VanWingerden have moved up to fifth position. They actually arrived in Nome before Barber and Conlon, at 3:39 p.m., but Gumley and VanWingerden have used fewer layover hours.
Similarly, Brad George and Robby Schachle were the second team to arrive in Nome, checking in at 2:50 p.m., only about half an hour after pack leaders Aklestad and Olstad. But time adjustments put them in sixth position overall, about 10 minutes behind Gumley and VanWingerden.
The Nome-based team of Jarvis and Jordan Miller arrived home at 3:59 p.m. on Feb. 21. They are now in 11th position, but they’re less than three minutes behind Blake Elder and Kody Worley, who are in 10th.
While Nome is the official “halfway” point for the Iron Dog, the racers have only traveled about 40% of the total distance. The trail from Wasilla to Nome is about 1000 miles, but on the return trip, racers have to head north once they reach Koyuk, then loop around through Kotzebue and Kiana before returning return to Koyuk and finishing out the rest of the trail back to Wasilla. The northern loop adds nearly 500 miles, meaning that the racers still have almost 1500 miles ahead of them.
Several racers have experienced mechanical failure or injuries during the race so far. Most dramatic was Leah Bauer, whose sled caught fire outside of Galena. Bauer was unharmed, but her sled was completely destroyed, forcing Bauer and her teammate Jacob Dahle to scratch out of the race. Dahle said they don’t know the cause of the fire.
In addition to team 2, Bauer and Dahle, and team 39, Barber and Lapham, five other teams have scratched out this year so far: Jesse Bradley and Tad Covault, Jeff Stoll and Dan Zimmerman, Chad Gueco and Cody Moen, Joe Brady and Gage Schaak, and Steven and Sven Gustafson. That leaves 21 teams still on the trail.
As of the evening of Feb. 21, all 21 teams still standing had checked into Nome. The final racers to check in were Bret Bohn and Tommy German, who arrived at 10:42 p.m.
Image at top: Iron Dog racers and their sleds in a Nome garage. Photo by Beagle Jarvis. Used with permission of Iron Dog 2022.