The 2019 Iron Dog is halfway done, as the first teams have already completed 1,000 miles of the race, arriving into Nome before 3pm Tuesday. According to the GPS tracker, this year’s front runners came in hot, traveling at up to 80 miles per hour.
“Really fast: it’s probably the fastest I’ve seen it between here and White Mountain.”
That’s Mike Morgan, sitting on top of the snow ramp near Nome city limits, with his helmet still on. Morgan of Nome, and his partner Chris Olds, checked into the half-way point at 2:49pm. Morgan, the returning champ, has competed in ten Iron Dogs, including this one, and for several of those, he has been the first racer to reach the halfway point.
“It’s pretty awesome, coming into my hometown here. It’s my third time being first here, so it’s pretty surreal. It doesn’t make sense right now, but one day, it probably will, once it’s said and done.”
While Morgan and Olds were still standing by their machines, team 14 of Bryan Leslie and Casey Boylan came in behind them, just five minutes later. Both racers completed their first Iron Dog in 2017 and are now considered younger race veterans as they are in their mid-twenties.
All of the top five teams were into Nome by 3:15pm Tuesday afternoon, including Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad, who were involved in a crash outside of McGrath on Sunday, resulting in another team scratching from the race.
Upon arriving into Nome, racers can enjoy some rest and relaxation until their scheduled garage time when they can repair their snow machines. Every minute spent working on their machines does count towards their total course time.
The halfway banquet will take place at the Nome Mini Convention Center tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5:30pm.
Image at top: file photo: Iron Dog 2017 competitors’ snowmachines await mid-race repairs inside the Nome garage. Photo: Lauren Frost/KNOM.