Iron Dog Open Thread

Team #11 stats here. Pro Class stats here. GPS tracking here. KTUU updates here. Iron Dog FB here.


Saturday, 5:11 pm: Join us on the new open thread for the last leg of the race.

Saturday, 4:05 pm: Palin/Quam will leave Tanana two minutes behind Huntington/Olds. The order and times teams will be released from Tanana are as follows:

Team 10 1:00.00
Team 11 1:01.58
Team 7 1:23.15
Team 21 1:43.00
Team 2 2:03:00
Team 40 2:08.00
Team 5 2:13.00
Team 18 2:18.00

Saturday, 2:55 pm: Teams will be held in Tanana until 1:00 pm AK/5 pm ET. Palin/Quam 2nd in the standings behind Team 10.

Saturday, 2:20 pm: Here is what is on the Iron Dog Facebook page:

Arrival times in Tanana– Huntington/Olds 7:52:45 am, Palin/Quam 7:54:43, Davis/Davis 8:16:40, Branholm/Spernak 9:05:21 (from Tanana Checkpoint)

I cannot tell from the standings whether Palin/Quam is behind Huntington/Olds by two minutes or sixteen minutes.

Saturday, 1:03 am: Teams 7, 11, and 10 have declared layovers in Galena.

Saturday, 12:43 am: Team 11 has made it to Galena. They appear to be neck and neck with Team 10.

Friday, 11:42 pm: Team 11 is through Kaltag. And the stats appear to be messed up.

Friday, 9:25 pm: They’re off!!! Team #11 just left Unalakleet. The race is on.

Next checkpoint is Kaltag.

Friday, 7:25 pm: Final times and order of release from Unalakleet, via KTUU:

The race will be re-started at 5 p.m., with the top five teams being released on their race times, meaning, their time differences coming into Nome, with time added that they spent working on their snowmachines.

The remaining nine teams will be released on five-minute intervals after that.

Team 33 – Bartel/Wichman, returned to Koyuk, apparently with mechanical problems and it’s unknown whether they will continue on in the race, but race officials said they weren’t going to hold the re-start for them.

Teams will be required to take an 8-hour layover in either Kaltag, Galena or Ruby, and will be held once they reach Tanana in order to facilitate a finish around 6 p.m. in Downtown Fairbanks….

The order and times teams will be released from Unalakleet are:

Team 14 McKenna/Van Meter – 5 p.m.

Team 10 Huntington/Olds – 5:11:07 p.m.

Team 11 Palin/Quam – 5:24:24

Team 7 Davis/Davis – 5:27:14

Team 21 Spernak/Branholm – 6:14:09

Team 2 – Sottosanti/Zwink – 6:45:00

Team 40 – Marks/Marks – 6:50:00

Team 17 – George/West – 6:55:00

Team 5 – McAllen/Cherrier – 7:00:00

Team 18 – Williamson/Hingsbergen – 7:05:00

Team 33 – Bartel/Wichman – 7:10:00

Team 25 – Watson/Price – 7:15:00

Team 12 – Willard/Goodell – 7:20:00

Team 4 – Albert/Malemute – 7:25:00

That would be 9:24 pm ET for Team #11. Picture of Team #11 fueling up for the restart here.

Friday, 7:05 pm: Most of the teams have made it to Unalakleet. The restart is tentatively set for 5 pm tonight AK time, 9 pm ET:

Here is the plan now (all as trail conditions allow):

Friday 5 p.m. re-start in Unalakleet

The Top 7 teams will be released on race time (meaning the same distance apart they were to be released in Nome with work time)

The remaining six teams wil be released at 5-minute intervals.

Teams will be required to take one 8-hour layover in either Kaltag, Galena or Ruby.

They will be held briefly in Tanana (now, at 2:21 p.m., it sounds like they’ll have their time adjusted again for those who aren’t released on "race" time) in order to facilitate a 6 p.m. Saturday finish.

Friday, 1:30 pm: Iron Dog has issued a statement:

The Race Director (Marshall) will make a judgement call once all teams are into Unalakleet to determine the next series of layover times in an effort to get the teams to Fairbanks for a daylight finish. At this time, we are planning for a Sunday finish in downtown Fairbanks around 1 p.m.

Friday, 1:15 pm: According to GPS, the teams are moving again. Most likely on their way to Unalakleet for the restart.

Friday, 1:00 pm: The pro class teams that are continuing the race appear to be all in Elim at this time, probably getting some much needed rest. No word yet on when they might be heading back out.

In the meantime, a couple of things. Via Facebook:

Want to give a big thanks to Quam/Palin,Davis/Davis for going ahead of the other groups last night and cutting trail so that everybody made it safe to Elim last night!!!

And then there’s this account, just to give you an idea of what was going on last night:

Trail teams 44, 51 and 54 tried to rally to Unalakleet. We made it to White Mtn. where race marshall Graeber turned us around just as we were leaving. We left White Mtn. after a snack with nice checkers there. Mark Ivy got caught in overflow right at Fish River in front of the White Mtn. store. Massive goround blizzard made going slow and you couldn’t even see the rider in front of you. Vertigo!

Got caught on a trio of overflow situations. Sunk sleds up to handlebars 6 times and had to wade into brine up to the groin – temps in the high 20s, winds in the high 40s. Not fun the first time, by the second time, hissy fits reigned. High tide and high winds meant water surge onto the trail that increased on return to Nome. Took 2 hours to go 500 feet. Twisted to say it, but we would’ve preferred to be caught in deep-dry-powder of Poorman.

Sea ice was three stories high; we thought we were home free but got stuck again 8.5 miles out f Nome. Temperature had dropped, winds increased, water deepened. Finally extracted sleds, but all were frozen. Hustled back to the National Guard garage to park sleds – thanks much to Dan counts and his wife and Lt. Col. Lowendowski.

We had a decompression session in the Alaska SnowRider suite at the Aurora in Nome to swap stories – the riders afterparty lasted until 5 a.m. For the record we left White Mtn. around 2 p.m. and arrived back in Nome 12 hours later. Distance to White Mtn., 71 miles.
 We saw team 3, Dixon and Wold at White Mtn. Doug had to scratch after falling on left shoulder while moving his sled in the Nome garage. He was tore up about it, understandably, and team 3 was on my shortlist for money teams this year.

Pro teams are all on hold in Elim until early Friday. We are all toasted out.

ht/CT Sherman and jimb

Friday 8:30 am: The GPS appears to be down at the moment, so I’m not sure where the teams are, but at last hearing they were all making their way to Unalakleet for the restart, possibly staying overnight in Elim. They’re not racing at this time, just simply moving to where the restart will be held. They were inching along last night, so things must have been pretty bad.

KTUU has a story up about this:

Veterans were paired with rookies in order to make sure everyone arrived at Unalakleet safely under a yellow caution flag. 

Upon reaching Golovin, Dusty Van Meter called race marshal Chris Graeber and told her the conditions were dangerous, "life threatening for some." 

But race officials never told everyone to hold up in Golovin, so a group of veteran racers decided to push out and head for points beyond.

"We assumed they were going to stick around in Golovin," race diretor Kevin Kastner said Thursday night. "It was a communication breakdown, but they were not told to stop…."

There are a group of extremely competitive racers who want to do what Iron Dog is all about they want to race….

Earlier in the day, there was a vibe among the racers when Chris Graeber held their fate in her hands. One could feel the tension. It was palpable. 

Some cooler heads suggested safety be the first concern, while others championed Sarah Palin’s comments from the night before that "girly men don’t ride the Iron Dog." At the base of it all is a long, grueling race across a western Alaska inundated by weather. Not uncommon weather, not unprecedented weather but weather nonetheless. 

However, on the Iron Dog’s Facebook page, Dusty Van Meter’s wife says she talked to Dusty and he says he never said that to the race officials:

When Dusty got to Elim they read this to him and he wants everyone to know he never talked to IronDog about the trail. This statement is false. He did tell them when they left Golovin he would stay with two rookie teams that were ready to go and the others would be leaving soon.

Hold on, the GPS appears to be working again. Looks like Team 11 and others are in Elim.

Thursday, 11:00 pm: You may have noticed that Team 11 and a couple other teams are on the move again. According to FB:

Apparently, some of the racers felt they could push on and have decided to press on. We’ll follow them and do our best to keep you posted. Arctic Cat teams pushed out of Golvin now. It’s hard to call from here, but I would say these teams have decided the race is on. We can’t see what they see, so we rely on their judgement. Stay tuned – we’re trying to call ahead to see what these guys are up to!

And… that status update is gone now. In it’s place:

As originally stated. We are still on yellow flag. Goal is to reach Unalakleet until further notice.

Teams 7, 11, and 17 appear to be headed for Elim on the GPS.  Pic of Sarah before the race here, here, and here.

Thursday, 10:20 pm: Via Facebook:

Conditions are life threatening and trails impassable. Pro Teams are going to hold in Golovin until further notice. The Ambassador Team and company is being asked to hold in White Mtn until further notice.


Based on the delay and severe conditions, the Iron Dog is on hold again. In light of this new delay, we do NOT expect to make Fairbanks by Saturday. Please stay tuned for details.

On the ground:

My husband called a few minutes ago, he said there was lots of water on the trail and that everyone was soaked, thanks to the people of Golovin for taking team 4 into your homes as well as all the other racers. I am very thankful they are safe!!!

Thursday, 7:40 pm: The teams are on their way to Unalakleet. Times will eventually be given for restart from there. Stay tuned to KTUU and the Iron Dog FB page for more information. In the meantime, a couple more pics of Todd at Nome here and here.

Thursday, 4:50 pm: The weather must be really bad. Via FB:

Teams will be restarting out of Nome @ 1 – 1:30 p.m. All racers will ride under a yellow caution flag, 3 teams together. Rookies and veterans will be mixed together to work as a team to get to Unalakleet. Once in Unalakleet, times will be set for release on their actual trail times and the race continues from there. More updates when they come available…

That’s 5-5:30 pm ET. More information here and here. Palin/Quam will be part of Group C. They’ll be riding with teams 23, 5, 12, and 2. Photo gallery here.

Sounds like a lot of the people over on the Iron Dog FB are angry about this, thinking they should have let the racers tough it out.

Thursday, 12:15 pm: Looks like the restart from Nome is delayed a few hours due to bad weather. KTUU:

Oh boy, the weather is not being cooperative. A weather map of Alaska shows just about the upper two-thirds of the state (think a diagonal line from just north of Bethel to McGrath to Fairbanks and everything north of there) under a weather warning, either winter storm or blizzard.

Our digital director, who is in Nome, says the riders will be held until at least noon, rather than 8:00 a.m. due to the weather (confirmed by Race Marshal call to HQ at 7:50 a.m.). He says there’s a rider meeting and that many of the racers are concerned for their safety.

Right now the restart is scheduled for noon Alaska time, which would make it around 4 pm ET.

Also, Teams 23 and 29 have been scratched because they were not able to make it to Nome on time.

Thursday, 5:30 am: In other news, Teams 30 (the female National Guard team), 31, and 27 did scratch. They really had no choice; there’s no way they could have made it to Nome in time to qualify. That makes 11 teams scratched (since the race began), 17 teams still in the race.

You may recall the story of how Team 8’s sled caught on fire early in the race, eventually causing them to scratch. Apparently one of the volunteers splashed gas all over the sled. Here’s video of the incident. Language warning. Hey, if you worked your tail off for months in preparation only to have some guy mess it all up for you, you’d be cussin’ too:

A brief video of Team #11 coming into the same fuel checkpoint, thankfully without the fireball, here.

Thursday, 5:15 am: KTUU caught up with Team #11 in Nome and talked to Sarah Palin who is there supporting her husband:

"It’s stay out of the way," Palin said as her husband Todd Palin and his Iron Dog teammate, Eric Quam, worked on their sleds on a blustery Wednesday night in Nome. "Those who are closest to these guys know what they need to do."

Spousal support at the Iron Dog is more than just a happy wife cheering her husband on from the sidelines. At the Iron Dog, a race from Anchorage to Fairbanks with a stop in Nome, where average speeds can approach 80 mph on ice-covered rivers in Alaska’s remote Interior, spousal support means trekking to Nome for the halfway festivities — sometimes with snowmachine parts in hand…

It’s a big family tradition," Palin said, holding her cell phone to shoot some video of her husband working on Quam’s sled. "The whole family will road-trip up to Fairbanks for the finish."

The realities of the race are year-round, according to Palin, who says Todd spends thousands of hours on mechanical preparations in the spring and summer, and thousands more getting his body used to the rigors of riding in preparation for the race that he started competing in 18 years ago. 

"It’s their thing," Palin said. "They’re in their element out there…They’re out there and it’s 70 below sometimes, pitch black and they’re on a frozen river fixing a sled, but these guys can do that…I look at the life lessons in this race," Sarah Palin said. "They will do anything to help each other out, but they have an extremely healthy competition with each other…When they finish the race, it takes only a week before they’re on the phone to each other talking about next year’s race." Palin said.

The men of the 2011 Iron Dog wore the dust and grease of the Nome city shop on their shirts and had bloody knuckles to show from all the wrenching going on Wednesday night, and yet this part is easy in comparison with the rest of the race. 

"I think these guys are the toughest men on the planet," Palin said. "Girly men don’t ride the Iron Dog."

More here, including picture. Picture of Sarah here. Picture of Todd here. Another pic of Todd doing repair work with his wife filming in the background here.

Palin/Quam are now sitting in third place behind McKenna/Van Meter and Huntington/Olds.

The restart times out of Nome have been posted. Team 11 will be leaving Nome at 8:24 am AK/12:24 pm ET.

Wednesday, 9:40 am: There’s a mandatory 36-hour layover in Nome. KTUU:

The prospect of winning $10,000 dollars in gold is awfully tempting to pass up. That’s why front-running teams in the Iron Dog snowmachine race were pushing hard to the halfway point of Nome on Tuesday night.

Marc McKenna and Dusty Van Meter reached Nome at 7:41pm to collect the substantial halfway award in the world’s longest snowmachine race. The duo led a tight pack of teams into Nome. Todd Palin and Eric Quam were right behind at 7:44pm, followed by defending champions Tyler Huntington and Chris Olds one mintue later.

More information on the prizes here. The second team into Nome gets $3,000 and the third team in gets $2,000. More on the $10,000 prize that goes to the first team into Nome:

With support from sponsors and approval from the Board of Directors, the 2011 Iron Dog introduces the theme of "Bringing back the Gold Rush" and a new prize for the first Pro Class team to arrive in Nome….

The gold prize worth $10,000 USD will be awarded during the halfway ceremony to the first Pro Class team that arrives in Nome, Alaska.

"Not only is the Iron Dog a race, it’s a rush. Gold has always been synonymous with Alaska and the concept of bringing back the Gold Rush is also a fun way to characterize the Iron Dog. This new halfway prize is just the beginning of a new vision for the Iron Dog. It will be interesting to see if the $10,000 prize has an impact on racer strategy this year. Beyond the halfway prize, the Iron Dog is looking very positive for 2011 and I can’t wait to share some of the new plans we have in the works.", said Kevin Kastner, Executive Director.

Not far behind the top three is Team #7, Scott and Cory Davis.

They’ll have a dinner in Nome tonight at 6 pm AK/10 pm ET, and awards and ceremonies after.

The teams restart for the second leg of the race tomorrow at 8 am AK/12 pm ET, according to Nome’s website.

Wednesday, 8:35 am: Congratulations to Team #45, Colton and Shane Perrins, on winning the Trail Class race. The Trail Class race ends in Nome. For the Pros, Nome is the halfway point.

Photo gallery of the teams coming into Nome here. A couple of Palin/Quam pics starting with photo 19.

Teams #31 scratched in Galena last night. Teams #30 and #27 are back in Ruby. They have to be in Nome by 11:59 pm AK time tonight or they’re automatically scratched. Team #30 is the female National Guard team. Cool video about them here.

Wednesday, 12:39 am: Pic of Todd and Eric in the garage in Nome here. The GPS glitch has been fixed, by the way.

Wednesday, 12:05 am: Team 11 in second place at the halfway point in Nome. Team 14, McKenna/Van Meter, is currently in first. KTUU:

Team 14 in at 7:41:05 p.m.

Palin/Quam in at 7:44:22 (3 min 17 seconds later)

Team 10 arrived at 7:45:20, 58 seconds later

Picture here.

Tuesday, 10:48 pm: Team 14 overtook Palin/Quam and got out of White Mountain four minutes before them. So Team 11 is sitting in second in the stats right now as they head to the halfway point in Nome.

Tuesday, 8:56 pm: Palin/Quam are past Koyuk and on their way to White Mountain. Back in first place in the stats.

Tuesday, 8:21 pm: There appears to be a glitch in the GPS. KTUU:

Looks like there’s some glitch in the GPS system. The thought here is that it has the correct position but wrong identity. The GPS says Todd Minnick is in White Mountain (he crashed and got injured Sunday and scratched) and Team 30 on Norton Sound, when they’re just out of Poorman.

Tuesday, 7:43 pm: Palin/Quam past Shaktoolik and on to Koyuk. From there only White Mountain stands between Team 11 and Nome.

Tuesday, 7:34 pm: Palin/Quam were the first out of Unalakleet about thirty minutes ago. They’re currently leading Team 14. Follow the teams on GPS here.

Tuesday, 9:25 am: Sure enough. Teams 11 (Palin/Quam), 14 (McKenna/Van Meter), 10 (Huntington/Olds), and 7 (Davis/Davis) are laying over in Unalakleet. Report on the ground:

11 is looking good, only team that followed the markers, since we have overflow, other teams rode around town before finding our gas station!!!!

It’s a ten hour layover.

Tuesday, 9:18 am: Consider this an ongoing open thread tracing Team #11’s progress in the Iron Dog. Updates will be added to the top of the page rather than the bottom for quick checking. Times are Eastern to avoid confusion. Subtract four hours to get AK time.

Palin/Quam just arrived in Unalakleet. As of this moment, they are in first place in the stats, but that can change quickly. Right now it’s anyone’s race.

Team 14 (McKenna/Van Meter), arrived in Unalakleet on 11’s tail. According to a FB poster, 14 blew some belts between Kaltag and Unalakleet but their machine is fine. Eric and Todd left Ruby at 4:24 a.m. ET, so they’ve been on the trail for about five hours now. My guess is that they might lay over in Unalakleet.

Follow the teams on GPS here.

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