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Iron Dog set for February featuring defending champions and a handful from Fairbanks

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 7:12 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The 2020 Iron Dog Championship duo of Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstad are ready to defend their title as the tandem, along with dozens of other teams, have signed up for what is known as “The World’s Longest, Toughest Snowmobile Race”. The 38th edition of the enduring event will launch with an Expedition, or Recreational, Class of 13 teams taking off from Big Lake, Alaska, on February 11, while 26 Pro Class teams will hit the throttles on February 13.

From Big Lake, the snowmachine teams of two will head to Nome, the halfway point. The sleds will then trek through varying villages such as Koyuk, Buckland, Selawik, Kiana, Noorvik and Kotzebue, before heading back through Buckland and Koyuk, known as the ‘Kotzebue Loop’. The loop was introduced in the 2020 event and adds additional 375 miles to already the longest race in the world, for an approximate total mileage of 2,645.

Similar to other events during this time, the Iron Dog is exploring and implementing COVID-19 protocols into its race. In a press release Tuesday, the organization stated, “Iron Dog Inc. understands the challenges, on numerous fronts, facing us this year and are working with our checkpoint communities based on recommendations from Capstone Clinic and Valley Upright Imaging, to establish a comprehensive COVID-19 plan to ensure this unique Alaskan tradition continues.” They will also announce more information about the racecourse and COVID-19 mitigation plans in the coming weeks, according to the release.

The 2021 field features 4x Champion Nick Olstad and 2x Champion Tyler Aklestad teaming up once again, looking to repeat last year’s performance on their Ski-Doo sleds. A championship duo from Wasilla has signed up, with Todd Palin (4x) and Bob Gilman (3x) competing for Team 17. Other champions featured in the 2021 race include Chris Olds (4x) and Mike Morgan (2x) on Polaris sleds for Team 10.

A total of five riders from Fairbanks have signed up between the Pro and the Recreational Classes. Veteran Rob Masson will represent Team 26, while George Mountain and Kelly Sommer will pair up on Team 32. Troy Conlon with ride with Cody Barber (Willow) in the Pro Class, while Joe Brady and Gage Shaack (Cold Bay) are competing for Team 86 in the Recreational Class.

A rookie team from Minnesota in Jacob Dahle and Dustin Dohrn (Team 2) are taking their first crack at the race, while veterans Mark Fosty and Ben Hildebrand (Team 37) are returning from Manitoba, Canada in the Pro Class.

2021 Iron Dog Pro Class Roster

NamesHometownSledStatusTeam #
Jacob Dahle/Dustin DohrnMorristown/Elgin, MNSki-DooRookieTeam 2
Shane Barber/Evan BarberWillow, AKPolarisVeteran/RookieTeam 3
Brett Lapham/Zack WeiszWillow/Wasilla, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 5
Robert Schachle/Brad GeorgeBig Lake/Wasilla, AKSki-DooVeteranTeam 6
Tyler Aklestad*/Nick Olstad*Palmer/Wasilla, AKSki-DooVeteranTeam 7
Cody Moen/Chad GuecoCle Elum, WA/Wasilla, AKSki-DooRookie/VeteranTeam 8
Chris Olds*/Mike Morgan*Eagle River/Nome, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 10
David Wagner/Eric WellmanArnold, CA/Wasilla, AKPolarisRookieTeam 11
Kenneth Kleewein/Kruz KleeweinWillow, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 12
Casey Boylan/Brian LeslieWasilla, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 14
Bob Gilman*/Todd Palin*Wasilla, AKSki-DooVeteranTeam 17
Travis Temple/Jimmy GattenbySoldotna, AKPolarisRookieTeam 19
Stan James/Gregory StrohmeyerPalmer, AKSki-DooVeteran/RookieTeam 20
Israel Hale/Joseph HalePalmer, AKSki-DooRookieTeam 21
Jarvis Miller/Jordan MillerNome, AKSki-DooVeteran/RookieTeam 23
TBA/Rob MassonFairbanks, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 26
Blake Elder/Kyle ConnerBig Lake/Palmer, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 30
George Mountain/Kelly SommerFairbanks, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 32
Mark Fosty/Ben HildebrandBeausejour/Stead, ManitobaPolarisVeteranTeam 37
Troy Conlon/Cody BarberFairbanks/Willow, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 39
Daniel Thomas/Mark NelsonSalt Lake City/Kaysville, UTSki-DooRookieTeam 40
Andrew Gumley/Klinton VanWingerdenWasilla, AKPolarisVeteranTeam 49

*indicates past champion

2021 Iron Dog Recreational Class Roster

NamesHometownSledStatusTeam #
Kim Bergeron/Jason BergeronDublin, NHPolarisVeteran/RookieTeam 51
Jean-Pierre Bernier/Glen BrittonHancock/Surry, NHPolarisRookieTeam 52
Randy Bedard/Jim HuttemierWillow, AK/Stillwater MNPolarisVeteran/RookieTeam 53
Bob Bloom/Dan ReganAnchorage/Palmer, AKPolarisVeteran/RookieTeam 54
Jim Blakley/Dianna BlakleyAnchorage, AKPolarisVeteran/RookieTeam 55
Wade Erickson/Seth KroenkeWasilla/Palmer, AKPolarisRookieTeam 77
Gage Schaack/Joe BradyCold Bay/Fairbanks, AKSki-DooRookieTeam 86

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