Iron Dog Snowmachine Race Primed For Big Lake Start

The Iron Dog snowmachine race gets underway this weekend, and there are some changes to the race route, which takes riders from Big Lake to Nome and then to Fairbanks.

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Iron Dog executive director Kevin Kastner says the course had to be altered between the villages of Galena and Koyukuk.

“Because of the open water on the Yukon,” Kastner said. “There’s a lot of theories as to why. Both weather conditions and also just post flood, seems to be affecting how the river freezes there. It’s about two and half miles we had to go around. It seems its only adding about 9 or 10 miles to the overall distance to the trail.”

Kastner says volunteers have marked the new route for racers. He says snow along the west coast this week has improved overland trail conditions there, but the sea ice remains unsafe.

“Our plans are to go overland,” Kastner said. “So avoiding the sea ice at all costs.”

Kastner says trail conditions are rough on the west side of the Alaska Range with minimal snow and there’s concern about snow machines overheating. The Iron Dog has a ceremonial start in Anchorage tomorrow, and a restart in Big Lake Sunday.

There are 37 teams in the pro class event. Among them are several past champions, and 2 women. Also of note, dog musher Sonny Lindner of Fairbanks is competing.