Top four Iron Dog racers hold steady as they close on finish

team 7 with their snow machines in McGrath

Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad had yet to give up their lead in the 2022 Iron Dog by when they pulled into McGrath at 8:04 p.m. on Feb. 24, nearly an hour and a half ahead of second-position racers Mike Morgan and Chris Olds. Morgan and Olds checked into McGrath at 9:23, but time adjustments put Aklestad and Olstad ahead of them by more than two hours.

Brad George and Robby Schachle held onto third position. They checked into McGrath at 9:29, just minutes after Morgan and Olds, but time adjustments put George and Schachle about three hours behind the second-position team.

Bradley Kishbaugh and Kelly Sommer likewise maintained their position in fourth. They were a little under three hours behind George and Schachle in overall course time when they checked into McGrath at 4:09 a.m. on Feb. 25.

Nome-based team Jarvis and Jordan Miller managed to climb another two spots during the Feb. 24 run to claim fifth. They arrived in McGrath at 2:46 a.m. on Feb. 25, nearly an hour and a half before Kishbaugh and Sommer, but the Millers are a little less than two hours behind fourth in overall course time.

Evan and Steffen Booth, the final Nome-based Iron Dog team, were in 12th on the morning of Feb. 25. They spent the night in Galena before hitting the trail to Ruby at 6:58 a.m.

The lead teams were less than 340 miles from the finish on the night of Feb. 24, but the final stretch is a challenging one, according to an Iron Dog press release. “You could run the most perfect race, and have something happen. I know, because it’s happened to me,” seven-time Iron Dog champion Scott Davis said. Indeed, in 2021, Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie were in the lead when a mechanical failure delayed them only 20 miles from the finish. They ended up coming in second.

Blake Elder and Kody Worley scratched on Feb. 24 in Unalakleet. They were the 12th team to scratch in 2022, leaving 16 teams still in the race.

The race finishes on Feb. 26. According to Iron Dog officials, teams will be held in Puntilla or Skwentna on Feb. 25, then they’ll be released the next day to head for Big Lake and the finish line.

Image at top: Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad arrive in McGrath on the night of Feb. 24. Photo by Renae Egrass. Used with permission of Iron Dog 2022.