Iron Dog trail leaders Conner-Vaughn aren't actually leading race

bbragg@adn.comFebruary 18, 2014 

Out on the trail, a couple of low-profile teams are leading the Iron Dog -- a team of rookies from rural Alaska, and a team made up of a rookie and a veteran with one race under his belt.

On paper, the usual suspects are leading the 2,000-mile snowmachine across Alaska.

By noon Tuesday, rookie Kyle Conner of Willow and 2013 race finisher Jerrod Vaughn of Anchorage were the only team through Koyuk -- 939 miles into the race, and about 170 from Nome, where everyone takes a 24-hour break.

Behind them, the rookie team of Scot Demientieff and Devyn Walker of Holy Cross made it through Shaktoolik at 11:23, 57 miles away from Koyuk.

These are your trail leaders.

But they aren't your real leaders.

The real leaders are two checkpoints behind Conner and Vaughn. Led by the teams of Mike Morgan-Chris Olds and Marc McKenna-Dusty VanMeter, a tight pack of teams left Unalakleet around noon, with Shaktoolik 41 miles ahead of them.

They are the leaders, because they've taken the 30 hours of layover time required before teams reach Nome, where everyone pushes the pause button for a day before beginning the push to the Fairbanks finish line.

Conner-Vaughn and Demientieff-Walker have taken 22 hours of rest. Each team needs to declare one more eight-hour layover before its reaches Nome. That means Conner-Vaughan will stop for eight hours in White Mountain, and Demientieff-Walker will take their layover at either Koyuk or White Mountain,.

Morgan and Olds, who have held a slight lead pretty much since the race began Sunday at Big Lake, left Unalakleet at 11:37 a.m. Tuesday. McKenna-Van Meter, the two-time defending champs, left a minute later at 11:38.

Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson were out of Unalakleet at 11:44 a.m., and Cory Davis and Ryan Simons left at 11:49, 12 minutes out of the lead. Andy George and Brad George followed at 12:01 p.m.

Scott Davis, father of Cory and a seven-time champion, scratched Tuesday at Galena due to mechanical problems. Six teams have scratched, leaving 32 in the field.


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