With all 28 teams into Nome, the 2014 Iron Dog is set to launch into the long jog east to Fairbanks Thursday morning.
The road out of Nome features some last-minute changes. Early in the morning, race officials declared that, due to poor ice conditions between Nome and Unalakleet, racers would have to travel overland from Golovin to Elim. Traveling on the sea ice between Koyuk and Shaktoolik was still allowed.
With just 20 minutes to inspect their snowmachines during the 36-hour hold in Nome, and with the top four racers less than an hour apart, every minute of wrench time impacts the racers’ times.
The top teams in the race spent just minutes fixing their sleds.
Fourth into Nome, defending Iron Dog champs Dusty VanMeter and Marc McKenna of Team 17, spent just 2 minutes and 45 seconds wrenching.
By comparison, race leaders on Team 10, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, spent a lot of time in the shop: 14 minutes and 45 seconds. Far from the longest wrench time—Team 2, Shane Barber and Ryan Sottosanti, spent more than 45 minutes in the shop—Morgan and Olds’ time on repairs means they leave Nome just 26 minutes ahead of the competition.
Third place Team 16, Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, beat Van Meter and McKenna into Nome by nine minutes. That lead drops to just four minutes after they spent 7 minutes 38 seconds in the shop. Also boasting fast wrench time were second place Team 41, Cory Davis and Ryan Simons, who worked on their machines for 9 minutes 11 seconds.
Morgan and Olds left Nome at 8 a.m. sharp Thursday, and at 8:26, Minnick and Olstad gave chase. Three minutes later, at 8:30 a.m., McKenna and VanMeter followed. The next team to leave will be Team 6, Andy and Brad George, at 9:15.
The racers will speed back along the Norton Sound coast, heading east and south back through Unalakleet, Kaltag, Galena, and Ruby, before making the final jog east to the finish in Fairbanks.
The last two teams into Nome, both rookies teams (despite several “did-not-finish” credentials to their names) include Team 33’s Michael Fuller and Eddie Kinn, and Team 26’s Jacob Hartley and Devin LaBarbera. They arrived at 7:05 p.m. and 5:53 p.m., respectively.
Ten of this year’s 38 teams have now scratched out of the race, with three—Doug Dixon and Mike Vasser in Team 3, Tim Jauhola and Kyla Malamute in Team 4, and Chris Carroll and Ray Chvastasz in Team 5—doing so just after reaching Nome.