Jarvis Miller wins Nome-Golovin 200 snowmachine race
Fifty-five snowmachine racers gathered under sunny, clear skies and cold temperatures in the single digits on the sea ice east of Nome to hit the trail for the 52nd running of the Nome-Golovin Snowmachine race. The stunning part was that 16 of the racers were women, marking the largest field of female competitors in the Nome Golovin race, ever.
Notching his first win in the C class and overall was Nome’s Jarvis Miller. He beat out 15 competitors in that class and finished in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds. Second was rookie Cody Sherman with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 49 seconds. Rounding out the top three is Nicholas Reader, finishing the course in 2 hours 14 minutes and 44 seconds.
The trail took racers from Nome to Golovin via White Mountain to gas up.
Riders spoke of rough trail conditions and a change in weather that turned the bright sunny day into flat light and near white-out conditions. At the finish line Jarvis Miller said that the weather held up on the way out, but then turned as the racers made their way home from Topkok to Nome. “Once it got white-out, it was hard to read the bumps. You couldn’t see anything hardly at all,” Miller said. He said that he last saw his competitors in White Mountain where they were in the pits together. “I didn’t see anybody after White Mountain,” he said.
The day before the race saw very windy conditions and blowing snow, which turned the trail into a series of speed bumps. Riders commented on the trail and its challenges. Mike Morgan, who recently came off winning the Iron Dog snowmachine race, won the B class in a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 1 second.
He said he had an awesome run despite the trail conditions. “All that recent wind that we had just ripped the trail to shreds,” he said. “It was really, really rough going through the hills, all windblown and it stacked up some really sharp bumps. Luckily I got tucked behind some real fast guys and rode with them for a while, we battled back and forth for a while and made for really good time going through there.” This victory marks Morgan’s fourth win in the Nome Golovin race.
Brandon Ahmasuk returned to the race after a 17-year hiatus. He competed in the C class and finished the course in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 34 seconds. Ahmasuk said he reached his biggest goal, namely to finish. He reported that snowdrifts along the bay were two, three feet high. “If you hit them going 90 or 100, I’ve seen a couple guys getting launched into the air, including myself,” he said. He spoke of a few hard landings where he hit the kill switch and had to fumble to get the machine going again in mid-run, but the only casualty he endured was a cracked helmet visor. He finished in ninth place.
In the lady’s division, another Ahmasuk crossed the finish line in her rookie run. It was Kerry Ahmasuk, Brandon’s niece, who finished in fourth place in a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 18 seconds. She said it was a scary experience, but she had lots of fun.
The ladies course took the racers from Nome to Topkok and back.
Mary Sue Hyatt of Kotzebue won the lady’s division in a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes and 56 seconds, getting her a paycheck of nearly $1,200 plus 50 percent of the entry fees and a half ounce of gold.
The winners of the C and B class received $1,500 from the Bering Sea Lions Club, plus 50 percent of the entry fees of their respective classes. Miller also received a $1,000 prize from Morgan’s Sales and Service in honor of ardent snowmachine race supporters Aggie Miller and Wendie Schaeffer who recently passed away. In addition, he received $2,000 and ounce of gold for winning overall.
There were a few big names that didn’t make it to the finish, or even to the start line. Evan Booth was signed up, but burned up his engine on a practice run right before the race. “The voltage regulator went out when I was checking out the trail this side of Cape Nome,” Booth said. “I went back to fix it before the tech inspection, but I lost the engine. So that was that.” Instead, Booth flew the race as a passenger in one of the accompanying helicopters and said that it looked like a whole lot of fun. Asked if his heart was bleeding seeing all the racers on the trail, he said, “I’ve been there, done that. So, gotta be a good winner and a good loser, too. It’s all good,” he said.
Tre West was also struck with misfortune as his snowmachine engine “locked up” near Hastings on the way out. He also shrugged off the mechanical and greeted the rest of the finishers as they raced across the finish line. His father Jim West Jr. raced in the B class and finished his run in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 7 seconds.
Racer Brad Mountain no doubt had the longest commute to the startline: he traveled with his snowmachine all the way from Fairbanks to Nome. Mountain finished in tenth place in the B class in a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and 51 sec.
Booth commented that it was good to see this many women in the race. Asked about his theory of why there were so many ladies at the start, he said, “You know, I think a lot is the support they have, they enjoy doing the things that the guys are doing and a lot of them are very capable. It’s good to see, yeah, we’ve never seen that before.”
Carrie Longley from Kotzebue finished in seventh place. She said she’s been racing there since 2009 and that there are women’s races that routinely draw about 30 lady racers to the start there. Out of 16 women’s racers all but two finished the race. When asked what drew her to participate, rookie Katie Hannon of Nome said, “I enjoy racing, and I enjoy the company and the people coming together and racing, I like everything about that.”
Amber Ryan, also a rookie originally from Unalakleet but now living in Nome, Katie Hannon of Nome and Carrie Longley spoke of the special sort of camaraderie between the girls on the race course. Approaching a rough section before Topkok, Ryan spotted Carrie Longley and her rig in the snow. “I thought I better help her get her rig turned over and I slowed down to help her and hit an ice chunk and ended up flying off and my chest hit the steering column and then all of the sudden my rig was crashed and I was in the snow and I waited there for a while. Katie Hannon helped me turn my snowmachine over when she was coming back from Topkok,” Ryan said. Battling fear instilled from a near-traumatic and very windy practice run the day before, Ryan was on the fence whether or not to call it quits and go back home, but Hannon said it’s only a few miles to Topkok, might as well continue and then go home. Ryan finished in a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 22 seconds. Mission accomplished.
Perennial contender Dora Hughes had a great race until she ran out of gas on the backside of Cape Nome on the way home. “There was also another girl who ran out of gas and we were just sitting there waiting for somebody to come by with some gas,” she said, laughing. “Aw, it would’ve been such an awesome run had I not run out of gas!” Eventually somebody provided them with gas to continue on their race. Hughes finished in 1 hour, 31 minutes and 15 seconds.
The race is organized by the Bering Sea Lions Club. Kevin Bahnke as one of the main organizers said that he thinks the purse has played some role in the amount of ladies who showed up at the start line. The purse was upped to $5,000 and a half ounce of gold for the winner.
Jarvis Miller, 2:08:18
Cody Sherman, 2:11:49
Nicholas Reader, 2:14:44
Jade Greene, 2:17:05; 5. Lucas Bauman, 2:19:06; 6. Amos Cruise, 2:19:43; 7. Shantah Esparza, 2:21:23; 8. Luke Smith, 2:22:40; 9. Brandon Ahmasuk, 2:30:34; 10. Ross Outwater, 2:31:56; 11. John Bahnke III, 2:42:51 DNF: Evan Booth, Gabriel Cabrera, Harvey Farley, Henry Richards, James ‘Tre” West
Mike Morgan, 2:16:01
Troy Miller, 2:18:59
Steven Williamson, 2:19:32
Harley Shield II, 2:20:47; 5. Louis Green, 2:23:55; 6. Quinn Schaeffer, 2:25:25; 7. Erik Johnson, 2:25:40; 8. Troy Conlon, 2:25:42; 9. Shea Oliver, 2:27:55; 10. Brad Mountain, 2:28:51; 11. John Schaeffer, 2:30:18; 12. Jimmy West Jr. 2:31:07; 13. Brad Saccheus, 2:33:58; 14. Michael Oliver, 2:42:26; 15. Charles Swanson, 2:52:51 DNF: Ty Gooden, Norman Sheldon, Gabe Schaeffer, Chris Reader, Gerald Hughes.
John Walluk, 2:15:03
Jason West, 2:20:21
Robert Richards, 2:37:08
MarySue Hyatt, 1:08:56
Stacy West, 1:12:37
Elizabeth Sours, 1:13:10
Kerry Ahmasuk, 1:13:18; 5. Trisha Parker, 1:13:33; 6. Richelle Horner, 1:14:21; 7. Carrie Longley, 1:16:42; 8. Samantha Richards, 1:17:02; 9. Agnes Anasogak, 1:20:22; 10. Alice Amaktoolik, 1:20:41; 11. Raenelle West, 1:21:12; 12. Katie Hannon-Lewis, 1:25:12; 13. Dora Hughes, 1:31:15; 14. Amber Ryan, 2:10:22; DNF: Katie O’Connor, Bethany Horton.