Mike Morgan of Nome and partner Chris Olds are in first position at the Nome halfway point of the 2018 Iron Dog snowmachine race.
Morgan and Olds of Team 10 crossed the halfway finish line at Nome’s East Front Street early this afternoon, at 12:43. Coming in with a course time of 20 hours and 49 minutes so far, they were greeted by family, friends and fans on a foggy day with temperatures around 30 degrees.
Morgan says he’s looking forward to several things now that he’s arrived in his hometown:
Eating some Mom’s home-cooked meals, and sleeping in my old bed, and hanging out with friends and family. We can’t celebrate too much yet, though. We’re only halfway.
Racers still have another 923 miles to go until the Fairbanks finish line, and things can change quickly. Take this morning: 2016 champions Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson led the race out of Unalakleet but fell to fifth position by the time they reached Nome at 2:18 pm.
Team 6, Brad George and Robby Schachle, overtook them to take second position into Nome, arriving at 1:06 pm. So did past champions Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, who crossed the halfway finish line at 1:32 this afternoon in third position.
The top 20 racers have all checked into Nome, according to the leaderboard. Five racers have scratched so far, including Tre West of Nome and partner Aaron Bartel, after Bartel suffered an injury. All 23 remaining racers have at least departed Unalakleet, where the race was put on hold for 30 hours due to dangerous weather conditions.
Morgan says having extra time at the checkpoint wasn’t necessarily a bad thing:
Any kind of rest helps, for sure, and we just basically ate, ate and ate, and we got to meet people we don’t normally get to visit with, so that was pretty cool.
The racers will have time to visit with each other and with fans in Nome this (WED.) evening at the Halfway Banquet, at 7:00 pm at the Nome Recreation Center.
Tomorrow is a mandatory rest and maintenance day in Nome, with the anticipated race restart Friday morning.
Stay tuned to KNOM newscasts for further updates on the 2018 Iron Dog snowmachine race.
KNOM’s Zoe Grueskin contributed to this story.
Image at top: Nome’s Mike Morgan hugs his nephew after crossing the halfway finish line in Nome. (Photo: Karen Trop, KNOM.)
Correction: an earlier version of this post misidentified the person Mike Morgan is embracing in the photo at top. The error has been corrected.