Mike Morgan of Nome has won his first Iron Dog Snowmachine Race alongside his teammate Chris Olds.
The 2018 Iron Dog finish was tight to the last four minutes of the race. Team #10 of Morgan and Olds maintained their lead from checkpoint to checkpoint after leaving the halfway point in Nome, eventually reaching Fairbanks first at noon on Saturday.
Brad George and Robby Schachle of Team #6 closed the gap between them and the leaders, getting to within five minutes of Morgan and Olds. However, their efforts weren’t enough as they finished at 12:04 right behind Team #10 on Saturday.
Out on the trail during the race, George and Schachle never passed the leaders, but they did have a chance to win based on overall course time. When they checked into Galena, about 100 miles behind Morgan and Olds who were resting in Ruby at the time, they had a faster course time by about 35 minutes. However, in order to win the race, George and Schachle would have had to get to Ruby in less time than Morgan and Olds did, and then pass them on the trail to hold the lead all the way to Fairbanks. As Jim Wilke, the President of Iron Dog’s Board of Directors, mentions the team who has the fastest total course time has always been the first team to reach the finish line.
Another four minutes later, Team #16 of Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad crossed the finish line in Fairbanks, securing third place. The 2016 champs, Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson made up some ground after leaving Nome, but still finished about an hour and thirty minutes behind the winners.
The 2018 winners, Morgan and Olds, will take home about $60,000 for their first place finish in addition to their contingency prizes ($91,500 in total), according to Wilke.
Image at top: file photo: David Dodman, KNOM.