Iron Dog set for February featuring defending champions and a handful from Fairbanks
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
|Jacob Dahle/Dustin Dohrn||Morristown/Elgin, MN||Ski-Doo||Rookie||Team 2|
|Shane Barber/Evan Barber||Willow, AK||Polaris||Veteran/Rookie||Team 3|
|Brett Lapham/Zack Weisz||Willow/Wasilla, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 5|
|Robert Schachle/Brad George||Big Lake/Wasilla, AK||Ski-Doo||Veteran||Team 6|
|Tyler Aklestad*/Nick Olstad*||Palmer/Wasilla, AK||Ski-Doo||Veteran||Team 7|
|Cody Moen/Chad Gueco||Cle Elum, WA/Wasilla, AK||Ski-Doo||Rookie/Veteran||Team 8|
|Chris Olds*/Mike Morgan*||Eagle River/Nome, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 10|
|David Wagner/Eric Wellman||Arnold, CA/Wasilla, AK||Polaris||Rookie||Team 11|
|Kenneth Kleewein/Kruz Kleewein||Willow, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 12|
|Casey Boylan/Brian Leslie||Wasilla, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 14|
|Bob Gilman*/Todd Palin*||Wasilla, AK||Ski-Doo||Veteran||Team 17|
|Travis Temple/Jimmy Gattenby||Soldotna, AK||Polaris||Rookie||Team 19|
|Stan James/Gregory Strohmeyer||Palmer, AK||Ski-Doo||Veteran/Rookie||Team 20|
|Israel Hale/Joseph Hale||Palmer, AK||Ski-Doo||Rookie||Team 21|
|Jarvis Miller/Jordan Miller||Nome, AK||Ski-Doo||Veteran/Rookie||Team 23|
|TBA/Rob Masson||Fairbanks, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 26|
|Blake Elder/Kyle Conner||Big Lake/Palmer, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 30|
|George Mountain/Kelly Sommer||Fairbanks, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 32|
|Mark Fosty/Ben Hildebrand||Beausejour/Stead, Manitoba||Polaris||Veteran||Team 37|
|Troy Conlon/Cody Barber||Fairbanks/Willow, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 39|
|Daniel Thomas/Mark Nelson||Salt Lake City/Kaysville, UT||Ski-Doo||Rookie||Team 40|
|Andrew Gumley/Klinton VanWingerden||Wasilla, AK||Polaris||Veteran||Team 49|
*indicates past champion
2021 Iron Dog Recreational Class Roster
|Kim Bergeron/Jason Bergeron||Dublin, NH||Polaris||Veteran/Rookie||Team 51|
|Jean-Pierre Bernier/Glen Britton||Hancock/Surry, NH||Polaris||Rookie||Team 52|
|Randy Bedard/Jim Huttemier||Willow, AK/Stillwater MN||Polaris||Veteran/Rookie||Team 53|
|Bob Bloom/Dan Regan||Anchorage/Palmer, AK||Polaris||Veteran/Rookie||Team 54|
|Jim Blakley/Dianna Blakley||Anchorage, AK||Polaris||Veteran/Rookie||Team 55|
|Wade Erickson/Seth Kroenke||Wasilla/Palmer, AK||Polaris||Rookie||Team 77|
|Gage Schaack/Joe Brady||Cold Bay/Fairbanks, AK||Ski-Doo||Rookie||Team 86|
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