Marc McKenna and Dusty Van Meter will fire up their snowmachines Sunday in pursuit of something that has happened only twice in the history of the Iron Dog and never in this century -- a third straight championship in what's billed as the world's toughest, longest snowmachine race.
BILL ROTH — Anchorage Daily News
The entire field of 37 teams will face another stiff challenge: Completing the 2,000-mile race across Alaska on some of the worst trail in the history of the race, which started in 1984.
Riders expect to encounter dirt, open water and ice as they race from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. Unseasonably warm weather turned much of the snow to mush, and although low temperatures have returned, not everything is frozen solid again.
Trail conditions are so sketchy the Iditarod, which follows roughly the same trail from Willow to Nome, will decide Monday whether to move the re-start from Willow to Fairbanks. But Iron Dog officials rejected the idea of rerouting the snowmachine race.
This is a tough, tough race, and the snowmachines aren't the only thing made of steel: the riders have to be, too. Blasting down a frozen river at 100 mph ain't for the faint of heart, folks.
And here's some trivia to put things in perspective. You may know that Todd Palin and his riding partner won the Iron Dog four times. So one year, Sarah (yes, that Sarah Palin) asked if she could enter with him.
He told her no. "Not unless you can pull a 600-pound snowmachine out of a creek by yourself," he said. She didn't enter.