Morgan-Olds lead Iron Dog out of Nome, into Kaltag

Beth Bragg

Iron Dog leaders resumed racing early Thursday morning as dark turned into dawn in Nome, only to put their races on pause again several hours and a couple of hundred miles later.

One group of lead-pack racers in the 2,000-mile snowmachine race across Alaska chose to stop for another layover 270 miles later in Unalakleet. Others stopped 95 miles later in Kaltag.

Leading the way into Unalakleet was the same team that led the way out of Nome -- Mike Morgan of Nome and Chris Olds of Eagle River.

Morgan-Olds owned a 19-minute lead over the team of Cory Davis and Ryan Simons when the teams departed Nome after all teams spent more than a day in the town that marks the race's halfway point.

Their lead stretched to 22 minutes at Unalakleet. They arrived at 12:40 p.m. and took off for Kaltag at 12:44.

Two teams arrived in Unalakleet in second place at 1:02 p.m. -- Davis-Simons, who declared a 10-hour layover there, and Wasilla riders Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad, who pushed on to Kaltag.

Morgan-Olds reached Kaltag at 2:27 p.m. and Minnick-Olstad got there at 2:54 p.m.; both declared 10-hour layovers.

The leaders will resume racing late Thursday or early Friday. Morgans and Olds are due to leave Kaltag at 12:27 a.m., with Minnick-Olstad due to follow at 12:54 a.m.

Davis and Simons will leave Unalakleet at 11:02 p.m., bound for Kaltag.

Davis and Simons are the Iron Dog's Team X -- a tandem of inexperienced Iron Doggers but decorated Winter X Games competitors. Davis is a three-time medalist from Soldotna and Simons is a two-time medalist from Alberta. Davis is in his second Iron Dog and Simons is a rookie.

About one-quarter of the original field of 38 teams has dropped out of the race. Among the 10 teams that have scratched are three that bowed out after reaching Nome.

The race, which began Sunday at Big Lake, ends Saturday in Fairbanks.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.