2024 Iron Dog - Day 2 Update

After 339 miles of racing, all but one Pro-Class pair took layover in McGrath last night.  The majority declared a 14 hour layover, with the exception of Team 49, and are cozied up somewhere in town taking a break.


Team 'Sons of Thunder' are 126 miles back taking a 12-hour layover in Tatina as they were recovering from sinking one of their Skidoo MXZ X-RS sleds in the water and towing back to the checkpoint.  Update: Just before 10AM the team has decided to throw in the towel, marking the second Pro-Class team scratching from the race.  Klint shared this via another Facebook post: This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it '....Well… here we are. I’m living out one of the situations I feared most about this race. Team #49 is scratching for 2024. Yesterday I hit an ice ledge and fell into the river just north of Tatina. I’m thankful Todd was there to help get me and my sled out of the drink. He’s been an encouragement to me as I’ve been struggling through this tough decision.  I talked to the doctor and explained some of the symptoms I’m dealing with: numbness, swelling and bruising, discomfort with bending forwards/backwards, and the initial reduced leg control right after I had the impact…. I’m headed in to check for damage to my spine. I asked about risks if I were to keep going on the race. No surprises- potential for further damage and/or exacerbating the injury. I appreciate all the prayer and love you all have been showing.

The first day of racing took an early toll on a few teams in the realm of equipment/parts damage.  Revisiting more details on Team 7's time spent in the river, they report that they were standing in waist-deep water with one of their Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS machines fully submerged.  From the initial onset of the incident to manhandling the machine out of the water and working to get it running again, they were back on the trail in under 60 minutes.  As of leaving McGrath they stand in 9th position.  To give a bit of perspective on the back-to-back champion team, despite taking a swim they had:

-Fastest split time Skwentna
-Fastest split time Whiskey Bravo
-Fastest split time Nikolai (tied with 14)
-Fasted split time McGrath


Team 15, the racing pair from New Hampshire, fought an electrical gremlin on one of their Polaris Cross Country sleds which was affecting the fuel pump, along with one rider being flung from his machine after a crash, resulting in the loss of a GPS tracker.  Despite all these issues they arrived to McGrath late last night and declared a 9-hour layover.

Team 17, the Dohrn brothers racing out of Minnesota will need to perform tie-rod repairs on the clock in McGrath.  As we all know, the rumor-mill runs rampant and we are being told that Team 10, Chris Olds and Ryan Sottosanti will need to replace ALL of their track shocks in McGrath before departing as well.

Joseph Gugel and Tim Gossett, Team 26 out of Wasilla, weren't spared any issues as they lost a windshield along with a GPS bracket, had to stop on the trail to clear shattered debris from an airbox that caused a throttle sticking situation, and will be one of the several teams adding 'replace A-Arm' to the on-clock work to be performed in McGrath.


Team 33, racing out of western Alaska villages of Kotzebue and Noorvik put on an impressive run yesterday especially in light of Skyler Wells being a rookie to the race.  Sitting in 6th place and only getting closer to where they do all of their training along the coast, it will be interesting to see if they can keep pace with the leaders and put their experience on that part of the trail to good use.


Before teams left McGrath, less than 90 minutes separated about half the front-runners.  Rounding off 10th position is Team 3 of Kyle Conner and Andy Gocke.  Conner was originally 'retired' from the race but due to a last minute injury from Gocke's original partner, Conner agreed to step in at the 11th hour to participate in his 7th running of the Iron Dog.  Both of these riders grew up throttle to the bar in Willow, Alaska, and are incredibly fast riders.  Keep an eye on them, even with Gocke only having one Iron Dog under his belt back in 2018.  They had a very clean run to McGrath and no real issues to report.  Update: In one of the checkpoint live videos it was seen that Gocke had ripped bibs, likely from a crash and catching on his handlebars, and the racers asked the videographer to tell someone to bring them an airbox in Nome.  In true Iron Dog fashion, Conner's sister-in-law tagged his brother on Facebook to add it to his parts list to deliver.  Information gets to where it needs to go, even in a roundabout way.


Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie of Team 14 check out of Ruby just 5 minutes before Team 6 racers Bradley Kishbaugh and Mike Morgan.  These front-running teams have been setting consistently fast split-times between checkpoints and seem to be off the radar for equipment issues so far after more than 600 miles on the trail.

Team 7 Aklestad/Olstad attempted a left upper A-Arm repair but apparently had a right side upper not a left side.  They opted to press onward toward Ruby without the part installed altogether meaning the ski/spindle is only attached to the machine via the lower A-Arm and the tie-rod.  This was quite the risky move running on the Yukon river at break-neck speeds in flat light but the options were incredibly limited and this was the best one available at that present time.

We reported above that Team 10 was up against replacing all their track shocks.  According to their team Facebook page it was reported that they had to replace 'a shock in McGrath' which set them back several positions while performing that maintenance.  It sounds like it may not have been as bad as we were originally thinking. 

Roughly 1-hour after Team 6 left Kaltag headed toward Unalakleet their GPS's started pinging in the wrong direction.  Several people are reporting that they are experiencing suspension issues and will be looking to make repairs back at the Kaltag checkpoint.  This is the biggest shakeup in the front of the pack since Team 7 took a swim in the South Fork Kuskokwim river yesterday.

Not much has been reported about Cody Barber and Brett Lapham of Team 39 who are currently sitting in 4th position.  Often in this race no news is good news and having a 'boring' race is exactly what the racers are looking for.  With less than 30 minutes separating the top 4 teams, it's not really clear if anyone is making any sort of progress on each other.  For now, it appears that Team 14 Boylan/Leslie are the team to beat.  They are running very clean and have inched an average of about 1mph faster than those chasing them over the last 700 miles.

Team 14 is blazing the trail toward the coast and will be the first to likely declare layover in Unalakleet, checking off 757 miles of trail in two days.




Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published