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Iron Dog Racers’ Layover Extended at Unalakleet; Nome Banquet Still Planned for Wednesday

Team #8, Aklestad/Johnson

Tuesday, February 20th, 5 pm:

The top racers in this year’s Iron Dog snowmachine race are still in Unalakleet. With severe weather along the coast, race marshals decided Tuesday morning to extend the layover.

According to Jim Wilke, president of the Iron Dog board of directors, the first 9 teams are waiting out the bad weather with a mandatory 30-hour hold. They will depart for Nome in a real-time stagger tomorrow morning, based on their times into Unalakleet.

If we release them in order of their actual running time, then the first team that gets to Nome will be the actual leader, and second place, and so on.

The remaining teams won’t be required to wait a full 30 hours, he says, but they’ll also be held overnight and depart Unalakleet in 10-minute intervals starting around 10 tomorrow morning, with their times then adjusted in Nome.

And our intention is to get everybody off the coast into Nome before dark, which is around 6 or 6:30, tomorrow night.

Wilke says having racers on this coastal portion of the trail overnight either tonight or tomorrow is something this layover schedule is designed to avoid:

Traveling in the daytime Western Alaska is problematic when you can see. It’s really dangerous at night when you’ve got open water, like we have now.

Looking at the leaderboard, 2016 champions Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson of team #8 hold on to their narrow lead. They checked into Unalakleet at 1:50 am Tuesday morning and will depart Wednesday at 7:51 am.

Mike Morgan of Nome and partner Chris Olds checked in five minutes behind the leaders and are currently five minutes behind team #8 in total course time, and will depart 5 minutes behind them Wednesday morning.

Brad George and Robby Schachle checked into Unalakleet about thirty minutes later in third position.

Wilke says the plan is still to hold the halfway banquet in Nome tomorrow night, tentatively pushed back to 7 pm. The racers will then have Thursday to rest and work on their machines, and he’s anticipating the race restart to take place early Friday morning.

All but 1 of the remaining 23 teams have checked into Unalakleet.

Tune into the next KNOM newscast for more on the 2018 Iron Dog snowmachine race.

 


Tuesday, February 20th, 8 am:

15 out of the remaining 23 teams in this year’s Iron Dog Snowmachine Race have checked into Unalakleet for their mandatory eight-hour hold, put in place yesterday by Iron Dog officials.

The latest team to scratch from this long, 2,000-mile race is Chris Collins of Kotzebue and his teammate Lawrence Jones of Ambler. According to a statement from Iron Dog, team #34 elected to stop outside of Galena just before 2 am this morning due to electrical and mechanical issues with their machines.

Yesterday afternoon, as previously reported, Nomeite Tre West and his partner Aaron Bartel of Anchorage scratched from the race after an unfortunate incident on the trail. KIYU spoke to Wayne Wold of team #4, who came across West and Bartel shortly after the crash.

“About three miles out of Ophir, we seen them sitting in the snowbank, they already had helmets off and it looked like a busted femur. We helped him back on the sled and they were gonna head back to Ophir to try to get a plane ride out of there, but he was in good spirits.”

According to Jim Wilke, president of the board of directors, Bartel is in stable condition.

Looking at the leaderboard, Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson of team #8 hold on to their narrow lead, as they checked into Unalakleet at 1:50 am this morning. Mike Morgan of Nome and partner Chris Olds checked in five minutes behind the leaders and are currently five minutes behind team #8 in total course time.

Brad George and Robby Schachle checked into Unalakleet about thirty minutes later in third position.

KNOM’s Zoe Grueskin and Gabe Colombo also contributed to this story.

Image at top: file photo: Aklestad and Johnson, Iron Dog 2017. Photo courtesy of Matthew McGee.

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