If you average just over 45mph for the first 759 miles of the Iron Dog race, you'll find yourself in first place. Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad of Team 7 broke trail into Unalakleet on their Ski-Doo sleds at exactly 5pm on Sunday evening. Less than 5 minutes later Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie arrived into the same checkpoint and both teams have declared a 16 hour layover here.
Photo of Expedition Class Teams via Teri Paniptchuk
What also happened is racers brought with them a coastal blizzard, which pushed winds past 40mph. This certainly diminished any sort of rider comfort as the blowing snow, windchill, and reduced visibility were all a major factor as teams pushed through the gray flat light.
Expedition class racer Rebecca Charles posted both the video above of weather conditions in Unalakleet along with the following quote: 'The Yukon from Galena to Kaltag is 100 mile an hour, one handed riding. Just awesome. It was cold, but I wore so much gear I was sweating'. Other race fans on Facebook had confirmed her comments about the prior trail conditions being fantastic before they pushed father up the western shores of Alaska.
Rounding out the podium of top 3 teams to arrive into Unalakleet was household names Mike Morgan and Chris Olds of Team 10 rolling in at 5:32PM, and by the looks of the video below taken by Paul Ivanoff III, they look to be pretty happy about it, in great spirits, and ready for some more racing action!
As expected almost the entire field of racers hit the kill-switch in McGrath and declared layover there after what was a very long day of both professional level racing along with required festivities surrounding the ceremonial start and other activities required to get to the starting line of a race of this caliber. Northbound between Skwentna and including Nome, Pro-Class race teams will be allowed to take up to 40 hours of layover. These layovers can be taken in one-hour increments and play a huge part in strategy for these racers. Depending on rider fatigue, possible injury, weather conditions, trail position, or a litany other factors, it may be wise to take some of your allotted rest time.
Kody Worley of Team 30 giving a thumbs up during a refueling stop in Ruby
We had reported last night that Team 8 Gueco/Moen had repaired the electrical issue they had run into almost immediately after leaving the starting line. While they were able to get back on the trail, it was short lived as they ran into more issues just shortly after leaving Skwentna and called it quits.
The second team forced from the race was Team 28 Gustafson/Gustafson, reporting a shoulder injury after a couple of wrecks near Puntilla Lake.
Local race fan Maureen N Victor reported that Joe Brady and Gage Schaack, Ski-Doo Team 16 had left the checkpoint of Ruby, making their way downriver only to have to return with what appears to be a broken rear torque arm on one of the suspensions of their machines. Early reports is they have scratched from the race but nothing is official as of now.
As of 8:45PM the current race standings are reflected below. More updates will follow tomorrow!