The top four Iron Dog 2020 teams are out of the Poorman checkpoint and racing towards Ophir, but according to trail organizers, it is unlikely to be an easy ride due to deep snow and trail obstructions.
But first, here are the standings of the top teams. As of this update, Team #7 of Tyler Acklestad and Nick Olstad maintain their hold on position one, nearly an entire two and a half hours ahead, based on total course time, of team 10 of Mike Morgan and Chris Olds who are in second. Acklestad/Olstad were out of Poorman checkpoint this afternoon at 2:35pm, followed by Morgan and Olds at 3:32 pm. In third position is Team 6 of Tyson Johnson and Brad George who were out at 3:34pm.
Those top teams are heading from Poorman to Ophir, where trail breakers have been working overnight to clear the way for racers. According to an Iron Dog press release, heavy snow and high winds have obliterated sections of this trail. Trail breakers have marked areas where large timbers block the trail. Further down the race trail, a trail breaker near McGrath had a frightening incident that Iron Dog shared on social media. A young bull moose charged at the trail breaker, hitting the kill switch on the snowmachine and denting the sled. The volunteer was unharmed, but wildlife is always an obstacle for racers to keep in mind.
According to unofficial results on the GPS tracker, as of this update the leaders – Team #7 are less than 20 miles away from Ophir, nearly thirty miles ahead of second position Team 10 Morgan/Olds. Canadians Fosty and Hildebrand maintain the last position of 14, although the GPS tracker shows them passing other teams on the trail, they have nearly an additional 7 hours of race time to make up on the 13th place team.
Racers should continue to expect snowy conditions as they approach McGrath. Racers will do a staggered restart in the Alaska Range at Puntilla and are expected to finish their race in Big Lake sometime tomorrow morning.
*Update: An earlier version of this story stated that the total course time gap between Team #7 and Team #10 was 16 minutes. The Iron Dog leaderboard information cited at the time was incorrect, and has since been corrected. KNOM regrets the inaccurate information and has edited this story to reflect more accurate information.
Image at top: A racer comes through Nome during the 2019 Iron Dog snowmachine race. The Iron Dog race crosses more than 2,400 miles of Alaska backcountry.