2017 Iron Dog Race – Day 4 Coverage
The boys of the 2017 Iron Dog are enjoying a much deserved break in Nome before heading back towards the finish line in the Golden City on the Tanana River.It is hard to overstate how tough these racers really are. Most recreational riders know what they feel like after putting 300-400 miles on their sleds over a weekend. The Iron Doggers have just covered 1100 miles in 21+ hours. And in absolutely brutal conditions. It has been -30° to -50° ever since the teams crossed the Alaska Range back in Rohn. This wind chill chart pegs out at -117° at 45 MPH…and these guys have been cruising at 80-90MPH for long durations at -50°. So who knows what the real wind chill number would be.
So a 40 hour or so break to treat the frost bite, take a long hot shower, inspect their sleds and do any necessary wrenching is a welcome respite from the trail.
Here are the stats of the top 10 teams into Nome:
It appears that the sleds of the top 3 teams into Nome are in perfect condition and will require nothing more than routine maintenance for their trip south. Craig Medred, in his excellent summary of the 2017 race at the halfway point, shares this observation from long time Iron Dog fan and supporter Jim Wilke who was in Nome: ““top three teams, in fact the top seven or eight, look remarkably clean. A little crash damage here and there, some riders suffering frostbite but all in all, pretty damn impressive.”
In the Nome garage racers are given 15 minutes to inspect their sleds and determine what needs to be done. But any work they need to do on the machines will be ‘on the clock’ and added to their time and will determine what order the teams leave for Fairbanks. Teams are also allowed two support members to assist on Wrench Wednesday.
This photo by Aaron Brown in the Nome Garage shows Cory Davis of Team #41 inspecting his Arctic Cat. It certainly helps to have seven time champion Scott Davis assisting!
Reports from the trail indicate that the Polaris’s have a few MPH advantage over the Skidoo’s and Cats when running pedal to the metal on the rivers and along the coast. Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad of Team #16 sleds have proven to be very fast during their run north from Unalakleet to Nome. They had a few MPH on everyone.
With the top 10 teams being separated by about 4 hours it is still pretty much anyone’s race to win, although top 3 teams will be hard to beat. There are so many variables that can come into play and one BIG variable is Mother Nature herself. Rebecca Charles took the video below in Shaktoolik in 2015. She states that is considered a pretty normal day weather wise on the Bering Sea coast. Reports are showing that a storm is brewing right now on the coast and it could easily be 100 times worse for the racers on the way back through on Thursday.
Here is some footage of Bobby Menne of Team #4 ‘racing’ James Spikes into Nome. James just happens to be is in his airplane. 🙂
The live cam showing teams racing to make repairs and adjustments on their sleds is now live:
2017 Iron Dog ** UPDATE** Evening of Day 4:
Rebecca Charles shared this photo of Team #14’s Bryan Leslie having his frostbit finger drained by Dr. Larry A. Levine. Fluid had built up due to the cold damage. Word is it looked really gross.Nothing like some minor surgery in the Nome garage. Just pour some Monster Energy Drink on it. It’ll be fine! PC: Heather Tuckness Sottosanti
Dan Thibault of Team #4 shows off more battle scars from the trail. Frost bite was quite common on this push north to Nome.
It looks like Team #32 of Cleary/Hausbeck of Michigan were able to get the needed parts for their Polaris’s in Koyuk and are soon to arrive in Nome beating the midnight deadline. Any teams arriving after midnight are then moved to the recreational class.
Many racers comments center around the extreme cold saying it has been a few years since it has been this frigid. Not only is it uncomfortable which affects your ability to focus, but there are increased problems with visibility due to googles fogging up and the snow dust obscuring the trail.
A quick word from Team #8 (2016 Iron Dog Champions). “We made it to the halfway point in 2nd place about 15 min off the lead. Our Skidoo sleds are in perfect condition and don’t need any work after 1000 miles of brutal conditions! We just finished wrenching. Official time on the clock was 2 minutes and 26 seconds.”
The top three teams of the 2017 Iron Dog are made up of experienced veterans who are certainly aware that anything can happen; but more than likely the winner is going to be from either Team #16 (Polaris), Team #8 (Skidoo) or Team #41 (Arctic Cat).