17 February 2014

37 Teams: Iron Dog 2014 Has Begun

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.
Iron Dog
2014 Iron Dog startStart of the Iron Dog, the world's longest and toughest snowmobile race, on the ice at Big Lake on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. Thirty-seven two-person teams will attempt to cover more than 2,000 miles of Alaska wilderness on their way to Nome with a Fairbanks finish next Saturday. View Full Gallery 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.


Stephen said...

You reckon you could find a way to introduce me to Sarah....huh? Not a doubt in my mind she'd never look back after she lays her big browns on me....she sure is some kinda punkin. (and don't breath of word of this to Sweet Wife)

Rev. Paul said...


Stephen said...

Oh, remind those guys I'm on my way with with my old bobsled to enter the race...just thought it fair to give 'em a head start.

Rev. Paul said...

You'll need to hurry - they started yesterday.

Re: Ms. Sarah, I've not met her, but we have mutual friends. :)

Teresa said...

Ugh too cold... even though it's warmish there. ;)

And I have no interest in hauling a snowmobile out of a river. None. LOL.

Rev. Paul said...

Teresa, I don't blame you. I wouldn't do it now, myself. Probably would have when I was a younger man; I did plenty of other things equally tough & risky. :)

Six said...

Alaskans are just tough folks. I admire your spirit of adventure and self reliance. Things the rest of the country would do well to emulate.

Rev. Paul said...

Six, that's very true of most Alaskans. There are a few here who would probably be better served to go back wherever they came from, but I guess that's true of anyplace, too.

Usually, we just have to do whatever we need, 'cause otherwise it's not gonna get done.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

The social impact of snowmachines on small snow bound communities astounds me. People went from hunkering down to year around recreation and socialising. When I was in my teens, we had two SkiDoos that were about as reliable as that eras Harley Davidson motorcycles. Even with all the "wrenching" they were great fun.

Rev. Paul said...

That's true, WSF - the change from sled dogs to gas-powered sleds was astounding.