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Team 39 leads Iron Dog racers into Nome

Snowmachiners reach the halfway checkpoint for 2024 Iron Dog.

February 20, 2024

Ava White, News Reporter

Lead racers in the world’s longest snowmachine race, the Iron Dog, made a beeline for Nome today. It’s the halfway mark on the over 2500 mile course, which runs north across the state.

A few dozen people were crowding the corner of Bering and Front Street waiting for the first Iron Dog racers to reach Nome. They’ve been anticipating their arrival since teams hit the trail on Saturday.

Teams 14, 39, and nine left Kotzebue less than an hour of each other Tuesday morning. 

Team 39, Iron Dog veterans Cody Barber and Brett Lapham were first to the halfway point just before 4 p.m. today, winning $10,000 from the City of Nome. The duo said they faced whiteout conditions along the trail, but they said it cleared up between White Mountain and Nome. 

About 20  minutes behind them was Team 14, veterans Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie. The team also said they faced white out conditions.

Neither pair has ever won the race.

Seven teams had scratched as of Tuesday evening, including two-time defending champions team seven, Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad. Aklestad told race officials that blowing snow reduced visibility was less than five feet at times between Koyuk and Buckland.

Team seven went live on the Iron Dog Facebook page, where Aklestad said he hit a steel drum. He said that the drum damaged the side of his sled, but he wasn’t injured. 

Racers have wrench day tomorrow where they’ll get to work on their sleds, followed by a halfway ceremony at the mini convention center in Nome. They’re scheduled to hit the trail back to Big Lake Thursday morning, and finish by Sunday.

Photo at top: Team 39 was the first team to arrive in Nome on Tuesday. Neither team member has won an Iron Dog before. Taken February 20, 2024. (Ava White/ KNOM)

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