Racers battled through whiteout conditions in the home stretch of the 2018 Nome-Golovin snowmachine race, on a Saturday that started in sunshine and turned cloudy in just a few hours.
Jarvis Miller of Nome was the overall champion and winner of the open C class. After finishing in about 2 hours and 8 minutes, he says the trail was bumpier than he expected:
“Didn’t practice for that. That was rough. But it’s good. The weather held up on the way out, and the way back was whiteout, but still fun. Once it got whiteout it was hard to read the bumps: You couldn’t see much at all — close one eye.”
Closing an eye seems to have helped Miller claim his first Nome-Golovin win after competing in three previous races and scratching last year.
In fifth place overall and first in the B class was Nome’s Mike Morgan, no stranger to winning snowmachine races. Morgan has won three Nome-Golovins, and most recently won the 2018 Iron Dog, with his partner Chris Olds. But Morgan says compared to a 2000-mile race, the 190-mile sprint is a whole different ballgame:
“These guys know how to hold the throttle down, so you just really can’t let off up here, man. I mean, to win this thing, you just have to stay on it, and just take chances, and try to be smart at the same time, so there’s kind of a fine line there.”
Morgan completed the run from Nome through White Mountain to Golovin and back in 2 hours and 16 minutes.
That’s just a minute behind the first-place finisher in the fan-cooled class, Nome’s John Walluk. It was the first finish for Walluk, who scratched last year. Last year’s fan-cooled champion, Jason West of Nome, finished second in the class of three racers this year.
The women’s race featured one of the largest lineups in the race’s history, with 16 women competing. 50 percent of them were rookies. Their shorter, 132-mile course goes to Topkok and back.
Rookie MarySue Hyatt of Kotzebue took first place in the women’s class, with a time of about 1 hour and 9 minutes. While other racers talked about the bumps, Hyatt says …
“It was a good run. Smooth and fast.”
Smooth and fast was not quite the experience for other racers, including rookie Amber Ryan of Nome:
“That was the most brutal ride I’ve ever been on in my life.”
Ryan says she had a crash on the trail heading out, and after getting help from Katie Hannon-Lewis, considered just turning around. But she says she’s glad she powered through and finished.
Others didn’t fare so well in what can be a dangerously speedy race. Stacy West of Nome came in hot at the finish line and collided with Samantha Richards of Anchorage, who was just pulling her machine out of the chute. Richards’ machine rolled over, and she was then medevaced to Anchorage. No further information about Richards’ status is available at this time from Race Manager Kevin Bahnke or the Nome Police Department.
Miller, the overall 2018 Nome-Golovin champion, walks away with $3,500 and an ounce of gold as his prize. And top rookie finisher Cody Sherman of Nome wins a plaque and an extra $500 on top of his 30 percent of the entry fees, for finishing second in the open class.
Image at top: Racers line up at the start of the 2018 Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race (photo: Zoe Grueskin, KNOM).
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that Samantha Richards collided with Stacy West.