Quinn Schaeffer (Bib #2) speeds down East Beach to start the 2016 Nome-Golovin snowmachine race. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

The lead racers in the 2020 Iron Dog Snowmachine Race are heading back to the Eastern Norton Sound after completing the Kotzebue loop amidst whiteout conditions.

According to the unofficial GPS tracker, Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of Team 7 checked out of Buckland southbound in first position within the last hour. At the time of this update, the Iron Dog’s official tracking system was temporarily down due to technical difficulties. It has since been restored and the official standings can be found here.

The two current leaders are from Palmer and Wasilla respectively. Both Aklestad and Olstad have won the Iron Dog in the past, but it’s their experience in races such as the Kotzebue 220 (Archie Ferguson, Willie Goodwin Senior Memorial race) that might be giving them the edge in this year’s Iron Dog, which added a 400 mile loop through the Northwest Arctic Borough and Kotzebue. Speaking to KOTZ radio Monday night, Olstad commented on their preparation for the added section of trail.

“Me and my partner came up earlier this year and practiced up here, we had a good understanding of where we were going. So I think that helped out a lot.”

– Nick Olstad

Sitting approximately 60 miles back from Aklestad and Olstad in second position are Tyson Johnson and Brad George. Riding the wake of their treads are Team #5: Brett Lapham and Zachary Weisz in third position.

18 teams remain in the field, with the leaders hoping to arrive at Nome and the de facto halfway point of the race sometime later today. Hometown racers Daniel Stang and Tre West, who scratched yesterday in Koyuk after mechanical issues, skated past East End Park in Nome just before eleven this morning.

Image at top: A racer speeds down East Beach to start the 2016 Nome-Golovin snowmachine race. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not include a link to the Iron Dog Official Standings.