Social media was abuzz late last night with hundreds of fans waiting to hear official word on rumors floating about surrounding a collision between Team 16 and Team 8 outside the McGrath checkpoint. We had initially reported that this wreck was going to force Team 8 of Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad from the race. This looked to be the case but in true Iron Dog fashion, the team persisted and through some expedient repairs, were officially back on the trail!
The rear triangle brackets that hold the rear suspension in on Aklestads Ski-Doo sled ripped from the chassis, but the racers were able to weld and repair the drop brackets and decided to press onward toward Nome. Despite being rear-ended at more than 50mph, the team was able to get the machine rode by Tyler Aklestad repaired in less than 2 hours of clock-time. This means that the overall time that racers spend repairing the sleds while on the trail is added to their trail-time, meaning that getting machines repaired, tuned, and back on the trail quickly is of the highest importance. Despite this early setback, Team 8 is currently in 6th position on an 8-hour layover in Kaltag, checking in at 5:46pm, AKST. Overall, Team 8 is by far the fastest team on the course today…by a long shot.
Speaking of the top 6 teams, all 12 racers are less than one hour apart checking into Kaltag and all top 6 teams have declared an 8-hour layover as well. This is an extremely tight race so far and the top 3 teams are separated by a scant 10 minutes. Eric Huntington captured what could best describe just how tight the field is in this second day of racing. This video was captured in Ruby, 577 miles from the start and the racers are legitimately neck-and-neck as they barrel in and out of the checkpoint as quickly as possible. These racers are CLOSE!
Giving a bit of context to the above video, our resident Iron Dog Oracle offered the following: “Team 14 had caught up to Team 20 between Ruby and Galena. BIG B (Team 14 Casey Boylan) entered the checkpoint first (seconds before the video started. Followed by Team 20 Scott Faeo. In the video coming in sideways is LIL B (Team 14 Bryan Leslie). Team 20 Robbie Schachle is the last rider into the Galena refueling checkpoint. BIG and LIL B refueled fast and got out just ahead of Team 20. From there Team 14 put the flipper to the bar and basically left Team 20 in the dust. LIL B said he never even say their headlights once they were back on the river after Galena.”
Good weather along the first stretch of the Yukon River allowed teams to push the speed nearing the triple-digit range for as long and as hard as they could, chasing the setting sun on the western coast of Alaska. In the video below captured by Mark Huntington, you can see just how fast Team 8 is going as they barrel down the Yukon a few miles shy of Koyukuk.
Eric Huntington also captured Team 14 leaving Galena, running wide-open throttle down the frozen river.
The field stands at 5 teams scratching so far and pulling from the race.
–Team 15 has officially scratched in Ruby and the reason (unofficially) was due to racer Micah Huss hitting a tree south of the Poorman checkpoint, which slowed them down considerably.
–Team 16 scratched due to the aforementioned wreck involving Team 8
–Team 17 racer Ray Chvastasz damaged his right side a-arm of this Polaris snowmachine outside of Nikolai. The racers had to ride the machine pictured below for 20 miles to the checkpoint but were still 60 miles from their parts plane McGrath, 343 miles in the race.
–Team 35 was forced from the race due to injury. Here is a post from their team Facebook page:
-Team 31 Conlon/Menne ran into equipment damage as well before reaching McGrath. From their Facebook page: