The top teams departed Kotzebue this morning as they moved forward to Nome and the halfway point of the 2023 Iron Dog snowmachine race. Team 7 of Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad started this race in 16th position on Friday, Feb. 17, then moved into first after McGrath where they have held the lead since the evening of Feb. 18.
Aklestad and Olstad left Kotzebue at 7 a.m. this morning in first position.
Left in their wake is a trail of scratches, injuries and mechanical issues. Only 15 of the original 25 pro class teams remain at this point in the race. That list of ten beaten teams includes Mike Morgan of Nome and his racing partner Chris Olds, who officially scratched in Galena on Feb. 19.
Numerous mechanical issues rendered Morgan’s machine unusable, according to reports from Iron Dog’s social media page. The unofficial GPS tracker shows Team 10 of Olds and Morgan as moving up the trail with an expedition class team on their way to Nome.
Trail reports described heavy, deep snow along the front quarter of the trail to the Yukon River which plagued several teams early on. “It’s been difficult the whole race with a variety of rough snow, loose snow, hard snow, and super-powdery snow,” according to one of the current leaders, Aklestad.
In second position are Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie, who are about 30 minutes behind Aklestad and Olstad in total course time. After them is Team 39 of Cody Barber and Brett Lapham with a total course time of 22 hours and 18 minutes.
The other Nome teams in this year’s race are still competing as well, with the Miller brothers Jarvis and Jordan in 5th position, and Cody Moen holds 9th position with his partner Chad Gueco.
Stay tuned to KNOM Update News for the next Iron Dog race update and live coverage of the first team’s arrival into Nome later today.
Image at top: Team 7 leads the race from Kotzebue. Photo courtesy of Iron Dog, used with permission.