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Lead Iron Dog racer says roughest part is yet to come

two snowmachine racers under the Iron Dog arch

The duo of Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad, this year’s team 7 in the Iron Dog 2023 race, pulled into Nome in first place on Monday at just after 3 p.m. The teams pulled into Nome under an inflatable arch set up at the west end of Front Street. 

Aklestad said he and his teammate were a little sore, but happy to be at the halfway point in a good position.

“Oh, I’m sore. It’s been a rough one, but I feel good. It was good… sleds are good. Nick and I are running a really good race. I think this is a conservative, smart race … So really, we’re more like two thirds of the way down with the race,” Aklestad said.

Team 7 has had the fastest splits through the majority of the first ten checkpoints of this race and seem to be on track for claiming victory in back-to-back years, according to the IronDog website. Coming out of Koyuk on the Norton Sound portion of the trail, Aklestad said the pair hit water which is something they don’t really like to do.

“We went way, way out. I don’t know if people watch the tracker, but we actually got into some water, which I try not typically do, but we kind of just we had to … it was in front of us, and we had nowhere to go. I don’t think it’s going tobe there for going home. It’s already water moving in on top of it,” Aklestad said.

Aklestad said the roughest part of the race for him — and probably the rest of the field — is still to come.

“We’ve definitely got a little left in the tank … it’s going to be rough going home … it’s going to definitely be a test for a lot of guys,” Aklestad said.

There are 15 teams out of the original 25 still in the hunt. Nome’s teams of the Miller brothers, Jarvis and Jordan, and Cody Moen and his partner Chad Gueco, are still running in the Top 10. Today is Wrench Day for the participants and provides an opportunity to catch up on some rest. The race restart will take place in Nome on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Photo at top: Team 7 leaves Nome under the inflatable Iron Dog arch. Photo by Hannah Smith, used with permission.

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