UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - 5:30 p.m. Update:
With such a long layover in Unalakleet, Iron Dog says the goal is to still finish in Fairbanks on Saturday, but race officials will have to make adjustments along the second half of the trail to accomplish that.
Team 8, Tyson Johnson and Tyler Akelstad, were the first team into Unalakleet checkpoint.
“We broke trail through about 6 to 8 in. of new snow leaving Kaltag, and steadily got less as we (got to) to Unalakleet.” wrote Johnson over text. “Kind of feels like we’re in Nome with such a long break.”
The Iron Dog shows Team 8 will be the first team to check out at 7:50 Wednesday morning.
9 a.m. Update:
According to race management, the participants with the Iron Dog will be held at the Unalakleet checkpoint for a total of about 30 hours, up from the previous 8 hour hold, due to poor weather conditions on the way to Nome.
"It's primarily to allow us to get all racers out of Unalakleet and into Nome," said Iron Dog board president Jim Wilke.
According to Wilke, with the racers coming in now, if they did a standard start based on previous standings, some racers would be starting out in the dark, and with high winds and high water levels on the trail, Wilke said that could be extremely dangerous at night.
Instead, organizers intend to start the first nine teams in their ordered times, with the team in first place setting off at around 8 a.m. The teams after 9th will then go in 10-minute staggered intervals, and have their times mathematically calculated when they reach Nome.
"We spoke with the racers in Unalakleet, and I mean racers are racers, they want to race, but no one complained a bit," Wilke said. "They all understood, everyone wants to be safe and no one wants to risk their lives or have anyone get hurt out there."
It still remains to be seen how this additional hold time will effect the finish time of the race. Organizers said they plan on elaborating on new time frames later today.
Over a dozen racers have made their way into Unalakleet overnight, following a brisk day of racing out of the Kaltag checkpoint.
The first team to cross the line of the western town is Team 8, comprised of Tyson Johnson, 38 of Anchorage, and Tyler Aklestad, 32 of Palmer. The two riders made it into Unalakleet at 1:50 a.m. early Tuesday.
Just five minutes behind the Johnson/Aklestad team was Team 10's Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, who hit the checkpoint at 1:55 a.m.
As of early Tuesday morning, 13 teams in total have made it to Unalakleet under frigid weather conditions. Four more teams are headed that way now.
Initially the conditions were so rough that a weather hold was placed on the checkpoint. You can read more about that here.
That hold remains in effect until just before 10 a.m., though race organizer and Iron Dog board president Jim Wilke told KTUU early Tuesday that the hold could be extended.
"We're looking at that decision now, because weather conditions in Unalakleet are really pretty lousy, and we need to know what conditions are along the next checkpoints first," Wilke said
According to Wilke, the lead team is scheduled to leave at 10 a.m., so the decision on extending a hold will be reached some time around 8 a.m., mostly depending on the conditions of the trail and the next checkpoints.
The current standings of the 13 teams into the UNK checkpoint are as follows:
1 8 - Aklestad / Johnson Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 01:50:40 02/20/18
2 10 - Morgan / Olds Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 01:55:10 02/20/18
3 6 - George / Schachle Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 02:23:43 02/20/18
4 16 - Minnick / Olstad Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 02:45:49 02/20/18
5 14 - Boylan / Leslie Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 03:06:10 02/20/18
6 2 - Huss / Sottosanti Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 03:25:25 02/20/18
7 20 - Faeo / Gueco Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 03:36:50 02/20/18
8 9 - Plumb / Starr Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 03:40:15 02/20/18
9 11 - Barber / Palin Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 03:49:12 02/20/18
10 4 - Palma / Wold Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 04:18:20 02/20/18
11 30 - Crouse / Strobel Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 04:48:30 02/20/18
12 5 - Gocke / Weisz Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 05:05:30 02/20/18
13 12 - Kleewein / Kleewein Checked in to Unalakleet (North) at 05:31:30 02/20/18