Iron Dog racers held off in Unalakleet due to open water
For the first time ever the Iron Dog snow machine race declared an unscheduled 24-hour layover. Riders were ready to leave Unalakleet early Tuesday morning but the problem of high water on Norton Sound and Golovnin Bay motivated officials to put off the restart for 24 hours.
“There was a nasty storm that went through,” said Iron Dog President of the Board Jim Wilke. “We could have theoretically started Tuesday a.m..” Wind and warm water pushed the water up through the ice. The trail is negotiable in daylight but the later arriving riders would be heading out of Unalakleet in the dark and be vulnerable to getting very wet.
“Our plan is to restart everybody tomorrow (Wednesday) and get everybody out in a matter of a few hours,” said Wilke.
Last place teams will leave around noon and that way everybody will be safe on the trail and in Nome for the banquet.
Leading the race is team 8, Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson. Down four minutes and 30 seconds is team 10 with Nome’s Mike Morgan and Chris Olds.
Team 7, Nome’s Tre West and A.J. Bartel, was forced to scratch just past Ophir after Bartel crashed hard. He went over the handlebar and the machine flipped over on top of him, breaking his femur. His mom posted on Facebook “The machine is fine because A.J. broke it’s fall.” His cover airplane, flown by his dad Gordon, picked him up at Ophir and took him to Anchorage where the leg was set and a rod inserted to stabilize the bone. Tre West will continue on to Nome as an unofficial rider.
Kotzebue’s Chris Collins and Lawrence Jones of Ambler, sponsored by Nome’s Wilderness Ski-Doo, scratched just past Galena after having persistent electrical problems.