Brutal Iron Dog trail forces former champions, veterans and rookies to scratch

Iron Dog 2023 knocking out teams left and right
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 10:11 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It doesn’t matter if you are a former champion, a team who has finished or a team just getting into it, the Iron Dog trail is ruthless and is knocking out teams left and right.

The headline team to scratch is team 10 of Mike Morgan and Chris Olds, according to a post on the Iron Dog Group Facebook page, Morgan’s snowmachine was too badly damaged to continue. In the same post it was said that Chis Olds is going to continue to Nome and help an expedition team make it to their finish line.

Of the initial 25 teams that started, 18 are left standing in Iron Dog 2023.

For team 12 racers Chris Collins and Douglas Wicken, it was a split-second moment that ended things for them.

“Handled the bumps just fine but before I know it it’s too late, so I clipped an eight-inch birch tree 22 miles south of Nikolai and immediately ripped off the A-arms from the bolt head and took me for a spin,” Collins said.

The Iron Dog’s only all-Canada team in the race, team 37 of Ben Hildebrand and Mark Fosty, was knocked out as well.

“Halfway through the day both my track shocks blew so it was like basically riding a pogo stick through. It was ridiculously bumpy. This is our third time doing it and this is by far the worst,” Hildebrand said.

For a lot of racers, snow has made the trail rougher than it has ever been.

Trail conditions deteriorate with wear, making things increasingly challenging for those in the back of the pack.

“Driving all the way from Skwenta to here tires you out. We tried pushing and pushing but it kept tiring us out so we just quit (and will) try again next year,” Team 44 racer Frank Ferreira said.

As of Sunday, the top Pro Class racers were in Kotzebue, where they are taking a layover before heading to the halfway point in Nome.

The current leaderboard can be found on the Iron Dog website.