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20 teams sign up for 2021 Iron Dog

Iron Dog Team 10, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, leave the Deshka Landing starting line of the...
Iron Dog Team 10, Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, leave the Deshka Landing starting line of the 2019 Iron Dog. (Courtesy Tom Stokes) (KTUU)
Published: Nov. 7, 2020 at 4:46 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The 2021 Iron Dog is months away, but the field of competition for the pro-class race has been finalized featuring 20 teams with a combined 18 championships among those riders.

“We’re just happy to have the field we do,” Iron Dog Executive Director John Woodbury said. “It’s a talent-rich pool with a lot of folks who are ready to race.”

The 2020 Iron Dog was one of the last Alaska sporting events to finish before COVID-19 became a part of Alaskans' everyday lives. Heading into 2021, Iron Dog will be organizing its race with a pandemic in mind. Race organizers have small, medium and large COVID-19 contingency plans, and will finalize a specific plan closer to the pro class race start on Feb. 17.

“The only thing Iron Dog wants to leave behind is snowmachine tracks and a whole bunch of goodwill,” said Woodbury. “If we can pull that off we will be very happy.”

Woodbury said riders will be required to get tested for COVID-19 before the race, and will not be able to leave the starting shoot if they have tested positive. He also mentioned they will likely test riders in Nome when they head south towards the finish line. The 2,645-mile race goes through 26 Alaska communities primarily off the road system, and Woodbury said he has spoken to most of the communities multiple times.

The race will start on Big Lake head north to Nome before looping through Buckland, Selawik, Kiana, Noorvik and Kotzebue then head south through Nome to the finish line in Nome. The 2020 champions Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad will return signing up for the upcoming race. The Hale brothers, Israel and Joseph, will make their Iron Dog pro-class debut in 2021 after Israel Hale became the first double amputee to ever the first amputee to compete in and finish the Iron Dog Race winning the expedition class race in 2020.

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