**Join our mailing list at the button above to get the latest updates!**A day of wrenching came and passed in Nome as riders turned into mechanics and raced the clock to perform repairs to their sleds. Teams are allowed up to two additional sets of hands for this event and often in this tight-knit racing community, we see fellow racers lending a hand to one another, friends and rivals all at the same time. You can get a feel for how fast these guys work on their equipment by watching the video below. Note that they are working on both sleds simultaneously and have an additional helper.
Teams left Nome in balmy 13 degree temperatures starting at 4am, with the first 10 teams being released based on their actual time difference between the team in front of them. After the 10th team is released, the rest of the racers will be let out of Nome on roughly 10 minute intervals. Due to the previous storm delay, Iron Dog race officials have revised the mandatory layovers for the Southbound leg of the race, but are still planning for a early afternoon finish in Fairbanks on Saturday. The big news today on the trail is actually the trail itself. As of yesterday there was no trail from the Huntington Bible Camp (famous for the 'bumpergate' pictures of Team 8 getting assistance from locals last year which, ultimately caused disqualification of both Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad) to Tanana and beyond. According to locals there is more than two feet of base and it snowed another 10" last night. This is not a good time to be the race leaders as breaking trail is significantly slower and requires much more fuel consumption than following in your fellow riders 'footsteps'. Currently the top 4 teams are on layover in either Ruby or Galena. Chris Graeber, former Iron Dog race marshall, did some quick number crunching and reported some unofficial trail times from the top racing teams between Nome and Unalakleet:
Team 10 4:29 Team 6 4:14 Team 16 4:34 Team 14 5:00 Team 20 4:35 Team 8 4:31The top teams appear to be all moving very well and because we've got a few different teams holed up in various checkpoints for various timed layovers, it's a little hard to tell who is exactly where in the race since leaderboard positioning might not be truly accurate, all things considered. [caption id="attachment_11313" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Team 18 Giving the Thumbs up Southbound from Unalakleet[/caption] Team 14's Casey Boylan can be seen in the video running out of fuel on his Ski-Doo literally feet from the White Mountain checkpoint. Due to the distance between some of the checkpoints, you will notice auxiliary fuel tanks on these sleds as racers need the additional capacity for the long and desolate stretches of trail. On the very first day of racing, Boylan reportedly broke one of his saddle tanks from its mount, requiring him to ratchet strap the tank to the tunnel of the machine. It is suggested that due to the jostling and bouncing of the tank after this trail expedient repair, it eventually pinched the fuel line running from this reserve tank, causing him to run out of gas.
Team 22 is very much still in this race battling against an all-male cast of counterparts. Chris Maynard shared this amazing aerial footage of Ashely Wood and Rachel Kidwell racing toward Unalakleet on the Northbound section of trail.
[video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://www.thealaskalife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018-Iron-Dog-Team-22-Unalakleet.mp4"][/video]
It seems that this day of racing has been, overall, pretty clean with very little 'trail carnage' to speak of. The only thing that we are seeing is a mishap involving Team 20 Faeo/Gueco which resulted in one of their Ski-Doo sleds having a broken windshield and the racer also losing his on-board GPS.
[caption id="attachment_11315" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo courtesy Sarah Voiles Hawkins[/caption]Stay tuned for tomorrows update which will include the race finale and details surrounding who won, what happened, and more!
Jackie Sottosanto April 17, 2021