ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — The 2019 Iron Dog has reached the halfway mark covering 1,089 miles from Deshka Landing to Nome. It still looks to be anybody's race as Team 10, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, was the first team into Nome on Tuesday. Not far behind was Team 14, Casey Boylan and Bryan Leslie, who trail the leaders by about five minutes on the clock.
The Iron Dog garage in Nome home to all the action during teams mandatory layover at the races halfway point.
With small margins separating the top teams, every minute matters, whether that’s on the trail, at the pump, or in the garage. During the mandatory layover in Nome, teams take the race inside.
At the garage, all Pro-class teams have a ‘wrench day,’ and are given 15 minutes to inspect their sleds off the clock. Once that 15 minutes is over, they are allowed to work on their sleds on the clock. Work is timed by the second.
Team 10 of Chris Olds and Mike Morgan are still in first place and are feeling very confident that their sleds are holding up as they prepare for the second part of the race. But in reality, it's a race to the gas pumps that will determine this race.
"These checkpoints only have one gas pump so as long as we make it there before them, we kinda still have a five minute lead," Mike Morgan said with a chuckle.
It seems to happen every year, but weather is always a factor for the Iron Dog. This year from the start teams trudged through whiteout conditions to get to McGrath, and it looks like storms will be awaiting racers as they leave Nome. At least one flight to Nome has been re-routed due to storms on Wednesday already.
Racers agree, the weather is definitely playing a factor in the race this year.
"The weather's getting interesting up here too, so that's going to play the biggest part in everything," Morgan said.
Thursday, teams will return to the trail, and they will be released based on their actual split times and time spent working on their snowmachines.