Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad were the first Iron Dog racers back on the trail at 7am this morning. They now have about a thousand miles to go, from Nome to the finish line in Big Lake.
Even though Team #7 had about an hour and a half lead on the second position team of Brad George and Tyson Johnson, they’re only starting 45 minutes ahead of them. According to race marshal Bryan Webb, George and Johnson were scheduled to leave Nome at 7:45am followed by 3rd position Todd Minnick and Daniel Thibault at 7:59am.
The frontrunners now head towards White Mountain, Koyuk, and then continue onto the Eastern Norton Sound coast. According to Iron Dog, trail conditions in that area consist of lots of fresh snow, similar to what the racers saw on Tuesday. For some teams, this stretch of trail on the way innto Nome beat up their machines quite a bit.
“We had a rough time yesterday [Tuesday]. We lost two A-arms on separate sleds, and then lost our chain and the chain case. Then I hit a rock, or something, and lost all the oil, and then the chain failed.”– Klinton VanWingerden
That was Klinton VanWingerden of Team #49. He says in addition to some extra challenges for him and his teammate Andrew Gumley, this is the most snow he’s seen on the Iron Dog trail in his six years of racing. VanWingerden and Gumley are currently in 8th position, set to leave Nome after 10:12am.
All 16 teams remaining in this year’s Iron Dog may have to be a little more cautious as they race the last 1,000 miles. The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the Eastern Norton Sound, which calls for blowing and drifting snow, less than a mile of visibility, and 40mph winds on the trail ahead.
The winners of the 2020 Iron Dog snowmachine race are expected to arrive into Big Lake sometime Saturday morning.
Image at top: Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad get ready to depart Nome at exactly 7am in 2020 Iron Dog. Photo from Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM (2020).