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Iron Dog Racers Speeding Towards Norton Sound Coast; Will Take Mandatory Layover Along Yukon

An aerial view of the wintry countryside near Kaltag, Alaska

Front runners of the 2019 Iron Dog have made their way to the Yukon portion of the trail, about five-hundred miles away from Nome, the halfway point in this 2,000-mile race.

According to the leaderboard, Mike Morgan of Nome and Chris Olds of Eagle River maintain their lead, as they checked out of Galena just before 4pm on their way to Kaltag. In this fast-moving, competitive snowmachine race, only seven minutes separate the fourth-positioned team from the first. At this time, all 21 teams remaining have taken 14 of their mandatory 30 hours of layover time. They must now decide where to take an eight-hour break: either in Ruby, Galena, or Kaltag.

John Woodbury, executive director of Iron Dog, says the upcoming stretch of trail the racers will follow is, for the most part, over land, not across sea ice like it usually is:

“We just don’t want to put anybody out on the water there; it’s just been so inconsistent. But we’ve got really good people, friends, and checkers, and the towns along the coast have been really proactive in sending us good trail reports, so we feel our information is accurate. But we don’t want to jeopardize any element of safety for this race, so we are going to keep them over land.”

This year’s Iron Dog began yesterday morning (Sunday) with 24 teams duking it out in the longest snowmachine race in the world, but now, three teams have dropped out. Shortly before 1pm today, rookie racer Michael Oliver of Nome and his teammate Jerrod Vaughn scratched after leaving McGrath. Roughly one hour later, Troy Conlon and Robert Menne scratched upon reaching McGrath. The first team to exit the 2019 Iron Dog was Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, who scratched Sunday night at 10:37 in McGrath.

Left in the race representing Nome are Amos Cruise and Jarvis Miller, who currently hold 9th position; they checked out of Poorman at 2:53pm. In second to last is Dietrich Nikolai and Nicholas Reader.

Tune into KNOM news tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 8am for your next detailed Iron Dog race update.

Image at top: file photo: near Kaltag, Alaska. Photo: Ben Matheson, KNOM.