Teams head to McGrath with 2017 Iron Dog officially underway

Iron Dog teams prepare to leave Big Lake.

BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) - With the big race finally underway, Iron Dog competitors should make it to the McGrath Airport checkpoint late Sunday night or early Monday morning, having left the Big Lake start at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Racers told Channel 2 at the ceremonial start Saturday that they’ve been ready to hit the trail for the official start.

“Every now and again," said Brad George, "you're driving down the road thinking about the race, thinking about the race, and next thing you know, you're nervous, you're shaking, and you want to go riding."

Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad, Champions of the 2016 Iron Dog, said they’ve also been eager to hit the trail, and don’t want to let the attention of last year's win affect the race.

“I think we've had that target, or felt like we have had that target, for a while,” Aklestad said.

Typically, the talk around the race revolves around the concern over too little snow on the trail, but this year, riders said there may actually be too much.

“It might not be the greatest thing to get up front right away," Johnson said. "You’re going to be breaking trail. I think the mentality is to take things easier this year, and see how things play out."

The Iron Dog race tracker has Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad leading near Pintilla Lake, going between 25 and 40 miles per hour.

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