Former Iron Dog Champion Mike Morgan of Nome is the 2021 winner of the Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race with a time of 2 hours, 13 minutes and 56 seconds. This year’s race finished beneath bright sunny skies in Nome on Saturday, one week after blizzard conditions and ice fog delayed the original race date.
Joining Morgan for the gold in their categories were Ivory Okleasik of Nome in the women’s class, Steven Quincy Williamson of Noorvik won the 600-class, and Quinn Schaeffer of Kotzebue took first in the fan-cooled class.
Temperatures were reported to be around 9 degrees but with 17 mph winds, it probably felt more like minus 9. The smell of gasoline was in the air as racers took off from the sea ice near Swanberg Dredge at 12 noon.
Race Marshal Kevin Knowlton co-marshaled this year’s event with Kevin Bahnke. Knowlton said this year’s race looked more like it used to in decades past, with pared-down communications and fewer resources for racers.
“A lot of people refer to it as ‘back to old school’, where, you know, a number of years ago, they didn’t have any ham radio communications and stuff.”– Race Marshal Kevin Knowlton
This year there were no volunteers with ham radios along the trail. Most of the time organizers didn’t have a clear idea of where racers were or if they had scratched. Knowlton said they relied on calls and social media from community members more often than ever to stay updated.
The trail is usually tough, relayed Knowlton, and this year was no exception.
“It changed almost on a daily basis with just the weather changing — the wind [came in from] one direction and then another, changing the drifts. I do know that between Cape Nome and Safety there were some drifts that were over six-feet tall. A lot of the racers that had a chance to spend some time on the trail prior to the race definitely had an advantage.”
This weekend’s 2021 Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race saw nearly 50 competitors coming from all over the region vying for this year’s top honors. Just under half of those racers scratched. This year racers had the added challenge of working without fuel stops and pit-crews. Those were measures Knowlton explained were taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We had quite a few racers that didn’t crash this year, but they scratched because they ran out of gas.”
Knowlton says that although there were some accidents, he is unaware of any serious injuries.
Morgan won a purse of $3,000 and was awarded two ounces of gold for his victory.
A Class Fan Cooled
1st place: Quin Schaefer
2nd place: Art Amaktoolik
B Class 0-600 cc
1st place: Steven Quincy Williamson
2nd place: Chris Olds
3rd place: Jesse Crumbley
C Class Open
1st place: Mike Morgan
2nd place: Tre West
3rd place: Ethan Kelso
D Class Women’s
1st place: Ivory Okleasik
2nd place: Alice Amaktoolik
3rd place: Colby Esmelka
Image at top: Mike Morgan takes some air after winning the 2021 Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race. Sophia DeSalvo, KNOM. 2021.