Once they had it, they never let it go. Team 7 of Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad secured yet another championship as they crossed the finish line in Big Lake, Alaska, after 2,503 miles on the race trail.
Securing this repeat of last year in 52 hours, 58 minutes, and 32 second with an overall moving average of 47.25mph Aklestad and Olstad add another notch to their belt of wins.
A flurry of friends and family met the returning champions at the finish line. Many of the below photos are courtesy of Harriet Hamilton Fenerty, often lovingly referred to as the 'Iron Dog Den Mother', who puts in a lot of volunteer hours tracking the race, providing valuable info, and giving the ever-welcome bits of fun facts, history, and her expertise on this race that has been run for 39 consecutive years.
Crossing the finish line just 36 minutes later at with an average moving speed of 46.73mph, Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie of Team 14 were certainly on the heels of the leaders but were unable to close the gap to secure the win. Its easy to see that with fairly clean running, teams that run into mechanical issues can certainly mean dropping positions on the leaderboard. Congratulations to Team 14 on an incredibly strong run!
Just 59 minutes separated the champions from Team 39 who rounded out the podium for this years race. Cody Barber and Brett Lapham's third place speed averaged 46.39mph. This means that less than 1 full MPH in the average moving speed separated the top 3 teams. For a race that is this long, it doesn't get much tighter than this. Any one of these 3 teams could have won this race given how close it was.
The top 3 teams enjoyed hoisting their trophies over their heads for a photo-op and will also enjoy a large portion of the prize purse. The top pairs will go home with $80,000, $40,000, and $20,000, respectively, for their first, second, and third place finishes.
The Miller brothers, Jarvis and Jordan of Team 23 finished in 4th position for this years race.
Coming off of a badly broken primary clutch shortly after the Nome departure, Brad Kishbaugh and Ryan Sottosanti rode their Team 2 Polaris sleds toward a 5th place finish, making up a considerable amount of trail time in spite of their setback. These two are always in championship contention and this latter half of the race proves to be one of the reasons why.
A huge congratulations is due to all of the teams that finish this long and grueling race. Its something to battle a race for a few hours but to do so for 9 days over dozens of hours is another thing for both the mind and body.
Congratulations to all of the 2023 racers! We look forward to what the 2024 race has to hold!