READY TO RACE — Nome snowmachine racer Mike Morgan, right, and his new Iron Dog teammate Bradley Kishbaugh are getting ready for the 2,500-mile trek that begins later this month.

Mike Morgan and new team mate to race in Iron Dog

Snowmachine racer Mike Morgan was in a garage in Nome last Thursday afternoon prepping for a training run up to Kotzebue and down to Unalakleet.
“We got stiffer springs up front, we redesigned the rear suspension a little bit,” Morgan said showing off the newest Polaris Cross Country 600 sled.
He’ll be racing that model in this year’s Iron Dog, which begins on Feb. 17.
Morgan switched for a younger model in choosing a race partner this year, too. He split with his longtime teammate Chris Olds, 52, of Eagle River. The pair won the race in 2018 and 2019, and finished second in 2022. But now Morgan—the only entrant from Nome in the pro class—is racing with Bradley Kishbaugh, 25, who placed sixth his rookie year and fifth last year.
“I’d run for 12 years with Chris and was kind of ready for a change,” Morgan said. “Chris will keep racing Iron Dog ‘til he’s 85-years-old. He’s got no end in sight, so I had to make a move. Me and Bradley went on a long ride last season. He’s fast and he’s young and he’s hungry, and that’s what we need to win.”
Olds kept team nr. 10 and Morgan/Kishbaugh will be racing as team nr. 6.  
Kishbaugh grew up back-country snowmachining in Kenai and got into cross-country racing a few years ago. His former partner Kelly Sommer will be racing with Olds.
Now in its 40th year, the Iron Dog will kick off on Feb. 17 when 24 teams of racers in the pro and 38 riders in the expedition classes leave Big Lake and head off for the Alaska Range. They’ll ride to the Yukon River and toward the Bering Sea coast, turning north at Koyuk toward Kotzebue. Race organizers added an extra 470-mile loop to Kotzebue a few years ago. After a mandatory hold in Kotzebue, competitors are expected to start reaching Nome on Feb. 20. They’ll have a wrench day on Feb. 21 in the Nome City Garage and a Halfway Ceremony and Banquet in the Mini Convention Center. While the expedition class ends their trip in Nome, the pro class will head back to Big Lake on Feb. 22. In total, the pro finishers will traverse 2,500 miles of tough terrain.
Last week, Morgan and Kishbaugh were eager to check out the sea ice conditions off Elim, Koyuk and Shaktoolik. Morgan hoped they’d be able to make good time in the race by cutting across the ice between checkpoints. He said he’ll have to keep an eye on the weather and the ice conditions as the race approaches. But his biggest strategy for success is lots of training down on the southern stretches of the Iron Dog course, where soft snow and moguls make for a physically challenging ride. He and Kishbaugh have been training out of Big Lake, going as far as they can on the trail every weekend.
“The big thing I learned doing Iron Dog is if you don’t train down there in the big bumps and the big physical stuff, you ain’t gonna do nothing in Iron Dog,” Morgan said. “After the first day you’re going to be hours behind the guys that train down there. 200 miles down there in the big stuff is like doing 400 miles up here on the coast.”
Competing in the expedition class is Nome’s team nr. 88 consisting of Howard Farley Jr., Harvey Farley and 16-year-old Kevin McDaniel-Farley.

 

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762
USA

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

www.nomenugget.net

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