Aklestad and Johnson earn $10,000 as first Iron Dog racers into Nome

Downtown Nome was buzzing with the sound of snowmachines on Tuesday as the first Iron Dog racers started arriving. Tyler Aklestad and Tyson Johnson claimed the $10,000 prize for the first team to reach the halfway finish.

Iron Dog racers Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad of Team #8 first into Nome. Photo courtesy of Keith Conger.
Iron Dog racers Tyson Johnson and Tyler Aklestad of Team #8 first into Nome. Photo courtesy of Keith Conger.

Right after stepping off his Ski-Doo after over one thousand miles of racing, Johnson said he was happy with their results.

Well, we’re here first, so it’s going good, obviously,” Johnson said. He said it’s nice to have a lead leaving Nome tomorrow. “That’s always comforting, knowing we can maybe take it little easier,” Johnson said.

His partner Tyler Aklestad was just as excited to be the first team into Nome. He said the weather had a lot to do with their performance.

Everything from Koyuk this way up until just outside [Nome] was awesome,” Aklestad exclaimed. “It was clear blue, beautiful, warm. It was amazing.”

Between Koyuk and Nome, the team averaged 72 miles per hour. And while they’re only halfway through the race, Aklestad said making it to Nome means a lot to his team.

“We didn’t make it but 30 miles last year,” Aklestad explained. “We blew a motor and we were out, so that was a bummer.” He said being the first team into Nome was redemption for the early scratch last year.

Aklestad and Johnson, along with the rest of the Iron Dog racers, have an extended layover in Nome. There’s a clocked repair session in the city’s garage today, followed by a halfway banquet this evening. Racers then get back on their machines on Thursday for the thousand-mile dash to the finish line in downtown Fairbanks.

Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer.

Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF.

Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about.

Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.

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