47 minutes is all that separated the top 3 teams leaving the last checkpoint of Skwentna, just 89 miles from the finish line in Big Lake. Team 7 was followed by Team 10 and Team 5, respectively, but Chris Olds and Mike Morgan didn't have enough trail in front of them to catch Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of Team 7 before they crossed the finish line at 1:18PM. That 47 minute separation was a bit erroneous in the sense that racers were held at Puntilla Lake to make for more of an eventful finish for spectators. Team 7 had an overall course time of 50 hours 8 minutes and an average moving speed of 47.75 mph.
Aklestad and Olstad had about as clean of a run for 2,400 miles that anyone could have ever imagined. They did 9 minutes worth of preventative maintenance in Nome and literally the only other thing they did for the duration of the race was put fuel and oil in the sleds.
A lot of information was coming to us from Puntilla Lake today as racers made their way from Rohn, and several teams ran into trouble on that section of trail, notably Team 6 Tyson Johnson and Brad George. George reported that they had actually passed Team 10 between Rohn and Puntilla Lake and right after that, the snow fell out from beneath his sled, causing it to fall and bounce off of a shelf of ice, coming back out of the hole without the front end of the machine in tact. He's reporting that the hole was about 10 feet long with water at the bottom. He has apparently broke a few ribs in the incident but other than that he was 'fine'. This forced Team 6 from the race.
A note from Team 6 from their Facebook page:
Pictured below is the cell phone that took some of the brunt of the impact as well, clearly shattered and very broken.
Also limping into Puntilla Lake was Team 10 with a broken upper A-Arm on one of their machines and reported a lot of hazards on that section of trail. They were first to report of Team 6's incident and told them they were riding double into Puntilla Lake. Team 10 made it to Big Lake, claiming their second place position, with a course time of 52 hours 49 minutes, 2 hours and 41 minutes behind the winners with an average speed of 45.31 mph.
Both filled with fast racers, Teams 14 and 16 were forced from the race (we are hearing motor issues from Team 14) leaving just 11 pro-class teams to hopefully finish as the remainder of the field heads toward Big Lake. This is not an easy race and when its nearly 20% longer than years past, it adds up to 18 teams forced from the trail for various reasons.
This has been an eventful week following the teams as they traveled an incredible distance through some of the most harsh terrain you can on a snowmachine (snowmobile for Team 37 out of Manitoba), and we want to congratulate every one of the teams who even made it as far as the starting line. Each one can now say 'I'm an Iron Dogger'. Well done.
Official race times can be found here: