Iron Dog Day 2: Team #7 first to Kotzebue, Hale makes race history

Team no. 77s Israel and Joseph Hale in Nome after winning the 2020 Iron Dog recreational class race. (KTUU)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new stretch of trail plus unpredictable weather along the western coast of Alaska has made for an interesting start to the 2020 Iron Dog.

Despite poor visibility throughout Unalakleet, team no. 7 — Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad — lead the pro class race into the Kotzebue checkpoint, arriving at 4:59 PM on Monday.

Typically the recreational class race doesn’t grab headlines, but the first-place finish of Team no. 77s Israel Hale made history, becoming the first amputee to ever finish the 1,303-mile recreational race. Hale and his brother Joseph arrived at the finish line in Nome at 10:12 AM Monday.

“We had an absolute blast,” Hale said via text message Monday after finishing the race.

Despite a mechanical failure and high winds from Kaltag to Nome, Hale said it was an incredible experience.

In September 2012, Hale was struck by a car and lost both of his legs. After recovering from the accident, Hale went on to start his own business and recently decided to compete in the 2020 Iron Dog to inspire others with disabilities.

As news spread of his attempt to finish the race, Hale was greeted with signs of inspiration along the trail — in Kiana, one person had a sign that read ‘Nothing is Impossible, Team 77 Hale Brothers.’

“Exactly the inspiration that I want to be,” Hale texted to Channel 2.

Now that Isreal and Joseph Hale have crossed the recreational race finish line, they're setting their sights on the pro class race in 2021.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All Rights Reserved.