2023 Iron Dog - Day 8 Update
After posts from several Iron Dog officials to include the Executive Director and Race Marshal there still seemed to be a whirlwind of continued speculation, confusion, and anger surrounding the Poorman fuel situation.
I think the complexity of the race can be lost on race fans as we are so often surrounded by 'right now' answers, information, etc. Logistically this race is enormously complex even if we had reliable communication along the entire 2,500 mile trail, which there isn't. In the case of the Poorman fuel issue, communication is limited to short text-message spurts via a Garmin InReach device. Once the issue was discovered (its suspected that some of the fuel had been used by outside parties), a plan to rectify the situation was put into place. Unfortunately those plans took a bit of time to come to fruition as fresh snow, heavy loads, and long distances separated the question from the answer.
In short, the fuel situation was rectified and after what appeared to be an additional short delay getting the front-running teams out of the Poorman checkpoint, racing resumed as normal. I believe race officials adapted to an unforeseen event in as timely and efficiently as they could have. Here's a photo of several weary Iron Dog teams taking a rest in McGrath:
Regarding issues on the trail, it was largely smooth sailing short of the Tango Creek crossing south of Poorman. Team 31 and 41 had GPS pings for some time at that location. Arnold Marks Jr., who broke trail in the area last month reported that the crossing had a steep cut bank and that the ambassador team put some effort into shoveling it in but that may have gotten blown out with as much activity it saw on the northbound teams hitting it.
As of writing, the top 7 teams have checked out of Nikolai heading southbound toward Rohn. Along with the mandatory layover in Skwentna to ensure a daytime finish for race fans, there is a little bit of shuffling that will need to happen depending on how many hours of remaining layover must be taken by the teams on the trail. Natalia L Navarro captured a great photo of Team 7 performing a splash-and-dash in Nikolai:
Amazingly we have not seen an additional team scratch from the race since the Nome departure. Team 2 fought through the broken primary clutch issue and inched their way back up into 5th position, an admirable feat in light of their setback. The only other mechanical issue I'm seeing online is a broken rear suspension mount from Team 20 Crouse/Strobel. This will be fixed before they depart McGrath.
Team 7 continues to set the pace, and a fast one, in this race. With Team 14 hot on their heels, Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad are putting some precious additional minutes between themselves and their pursuers, now showing a 44 minute lead out of Nikolai. If they continue to run smooth, it will be very difficult for anyone to close this gap as they are more than 2,200 miles into this race.
Following up on the Alaska Safe Riders project and Amabassador Team 77, the program was a huge success along the trail and even in Nome! The safety presentations were well received and the children learned the valuable lesson that 'helmets save lives!'. The amount of donated helmets and goggles is astounding! Photos from Katie G Hannon
Cover photo via Melissa Captain in Ruby, Alaska.