Day 3 of the 2014 Iron Dog meets racers with temperatures hovering just below zero with a slight breeze, just like yesterday. I did read a report of racers being greeted with temperatures nearing 40 below zero as they entered the Yukon River. Running at speeds of nearly 80 mph in 40 below zero conditions are literally ‘off the chart’ when you are looking at the Wind Chill Chart put out by the National Weather Service. As of now, the top 11 teams have made it to the coast and are in an 8 hour layover in Unalakleet.
Team 10 continues to break trail for the rest of the pack, checking into Unalakleet at 3:37am. We mentioned them stretching their lead in previous postings but only 40 seconds later before the snow from Morgan and Olds had settled, Team 17 (McKenna/VanMeter) also clicked the stopwatch to earn second place to the ocean. 6 minutes later, Aklestad and Johnson of Team 8 checked in, followed 5 minutes later by Team 41 of Davis/Simons.
The top 12 racers checked into Unalakleet within almost exactly 30 minutes of each other with the latest team, Dow/Lessard, checking in at 06:17.
It will be interesting to see what the teams running toward Unalakleet will do. Many of them have the ability to blow right by that checkpoint and head up toward Shaktoolik for a little layover toward Koyuk or even White Mountain.
With a dozen teams currently running hard on the Yukon River to earn their own 8 hour rest in Unalakleet, the first batch of teams are waiting until just past 11:30 this morning to head the 41 miles to Shaktoolik where Trail Class racing team 63 is running just under 50 mph, so it will likely take under an hour to pass that point with good visibility to follow another 57, 94, and 75 miles through Kokuk, White Mountain and Nome, respectively. From their current position, 267 miles or ocean ice and coastal trail sprinting separate them from Nome.
Many cash prizes are up for grabs today including:
Fastest team to Nome–$10,000
Fastest team from White Mountain to Nome–$3,000 cash
2nd Fastest and 3rd Fastest to Nome– $3,000 and $2,000 respectively
Along with cash prizes, there are also many product packages up for grabs for all rookie teams with fast times into Nome. There is even a prize for riders who started the race AND made it into nome with their Lead-Dog Helmet Light on. Full list HERE
We do have a handful of teams either just pasting Ruby to gain access to the Yukon river or heading North toward Ruby. Teams 26 and 33 are currently rounding out the pack of racers headed to Nome
Currently only 6 teams have scratched out of the race, most recently being Team 7 (Davis/Bartel), which is surprising as their times yesterday were looking very good. There has been no indication on the Iron Dog website/facebook page as a reason for the scratch (other than a posting with rumors of motor troubles) but they are officially out of the race.
With only a few hours separating much of the top contenders, many veterans whose name is recognizable to most who follow the race, I think it could be anyone’s race at this point. Hundreds upon hundreds of mile will stand between Nome and the finish line in Fairbanks where anything could happen to any one of these racers or teams. Stay tuned for an update this evening!