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Iron Dog teams leave halfway point, slated to finish Sunday

Team 39 was the first to hit the trail this morning.
Team 39 hit the trail Thursday morning (Feb. 22) at eight a.m. The duo is from Willow.

February 22, 2024

Ava White, News Reporter

Eighteen teams racing in the world’s longest snowmachine race, the Iron Dog, left the halfway checkpoint in Nome this morning.

The first duo on the trail this morning was Team 39, veteran racers Brett Lapham and Cody Barber. The team from Willow arrived in Nome on Tuesday (Jan. 20) afternoon after racing nearly 1500 miles from Big Lake, about an hour north of Anchorage.

It’s the first time the team has led the race out of Nome. Neither Lapham or Barber have won an Iron Dog before.

Barber said he’s trying to not let his nerves get to him.

“We just gotta be calm and collective and get down the thrill smooth without breaking anything,” he said.

He said their strategy on the trail is dependent on weather conditions. Teams are racing over 1,000 miles across rugged and rural terrain, where temperatures can reach minus 60 degrees. Racers also pass through over a dozen checkpoints, in villages like Koyuk, Galena, and McGrath.

“We’re just gonna make our way down the trail and battle to get there,” he said.

About a half an hour behind them was Team 14, Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie.

Racers are scheduled to arrive in Big Lake on Sunday (Feb. 25).

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