$100,000 will be divvied up by the top finishers of this year’s longest snowmachine race in the world. The Iron Dog board of directors announced last week that more than $190,000 could be potentially paid out to the 2019 racers.
Besides the purse and contingency prizes like the annual Donlin Gold halfway award in Nome, there will be a raffle giveaway of a half-acre of land and an accompanying “tiny house.” According to Jeff Johnson, Iron Dog president since August of 2018, the race costs about $400,000 to put on.
Johnson says after the future of the race was at a crossroads last summer, and the 2019 Iron Dog was uncertain, then, “a lot of generous donors and volunteers – and a lot of discipline later – we find ourselves not only back to good health, but also able to give back a little.”
The Iron Dog board now has a new executive director, John Woodbury, who is the third person to hold that title since 2017. In addition, Iron Dog’s leadership is up to 12 board members, which includes Ginny Emmons of Nome.
24 teams are signed up to compete in the Pro Class of the 2019 Iron Dog, racing 2,000 miles from Deshka Landing to Fairbanks, by way of Nome. The official roster includes last year’s champions Mike Morgan of Nome and Chris Olds of Eagle River.
Previous winners running this year’s race include Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad, who won in 2016 but then had a contentious finish in 2017, as well as Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad.
This year’s lineup also includes racers with roots in Western Alaska, like Nicholas Reader of Nome, who has teamed up with Dietrich Nikolai of McGrath for his first go at the Iron Dog. Also competing in the world’s longest snowmachine race for the first time is Jarvis Miller of Nome, winner of the 2018 Nome-Golovin race, alongside his teammate Amos Cruise of McGrath, who has previously mined for gold in Nome. Fellow Nome-ite Michael Oliver is also on the roster, listed as a rookie on team 35 with veteran racer Jerrod Vaughn.
The start of the 2019 Iron Dog snowmachine race is set for 11am, February 17, at Deshka Landing.
Image at top: Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson arrive in Nome during the 2017 Iron Dog. Photo courtesy of Matthew McGee.