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Four-Time Iron Dog Winner Todd Palin and 2008 Iron Dog Winner Eric Quam Place Second in 2011 Iron Dog Race

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on February 27, 2011

Eric Quam (left) and Todd Palin (right) cross finish line in Fairbanks 17 minutes behind Huntington-Olds team (Photo by Kortnie Horazdovsky at

The Anchorage Daily News has posted an excellent overall summary of the 2011 Iron Dog race. However, they stated in error that Todd Palin is a three-time Iron Dog winner. This error was subsequently repeated several times across the news services. As we wrote here, the former First Dude was an Iron dog champion in 1995, 2000 (mentioned here), 2002, and 2007.  (Also see our IronDog Race page.) We at SPWB  are rooting for Win Number 5 for Todd Palin’s Iron Dog team in 2012.

This year, Team 11 made it to Nome in second place by a mere 4 minutes.  Later they were leading the pack out of  Nenana, but a problem with one of the skis on Todd’s snowmachine cost them the final victory by 17 minutes.  But second place in the world’s toughest long distance race is nothing to sneeze at.  Congratulations, Todd Palin and Eric Baum!

Our congratulations also go to Tyler Huntington and Chris Olds for their win and a job well done.

The ADN reported

Tyler Huntington of Fairbanks and Chris Olds of Eagle River repeated as Iron Dog champions early Saturday evening, passing the team of Todd Palin and Eric Quam in the final 100 miles of the 2,000-mile snowmachine race across Alaska.

Huntington and Olds eked out a two-minute lead going into Tanana earlier Saturday.

But Palin, a three-time champ, and Quam, a 2008 champ, surged past them and reached Nenana 17 minutes ahead of Huntington and Olds.

But after leaving Nenana, Palin had trouble with one of the skis on his Arctic Cat F6 600 and had to stop to fix it, giving Huntington and Olds the break they needed.

They claimed the lead on the 77-mile run from Nenana to North Pole, arriving at North Pole with a 14-minute lead that more than held up over the final 35 miles to Fairbanks.

Huntington and Olds, who will share the first-place prize of $50,000, reached the finish line at 5:51 p.m. Saturday. Palin and Quam finished at 6:09 p.m. and the father-son team of Scott and Cory Davis claimed third place about 10 minutes later.

Much of the pace and outcome of the 26th edition of the race was dictated by weather.

The early leaders, Marc McKenna and Dusty Van Meter, lost command when their sleds got stuck in overflow on the Yukon River near Nulato.

And for the better part of two days, the race stalled in Nome because of what officials called “life-threatening” trail conditions. Race officials ordered the race run under a yellow caution flag for the first 250 miles of the trip to Fairbanks, from Nome to Unalakleet

Greg Johnson at The Frontiersman reported:

After a final day of racing that could’ve been scripted by a Hollywood screenwriter, Tyler Huntington and Chris Olds are the 2011 Iron Dog champions.

The team of Huntington and Olds crossed the finish line of the 2,000-mile snowmachine race in Fairbanks at 5:51 p.m., Saturday, about 18 minutes ahead of the second-place team of Todd Palin and Eric Quam. Palin’s hometown is Wasilla, while Quam is from Palmer. Palin and Quam were actually in the lead coming down the homestretch into Fairbanks, but Palin suffered a mechanical issue that allowed Huntington and Olds to pass them.

“We had all kinds of neck-and-neck and back-and-forth going on,” said Iron Dog Executive Director Kevin Kastner. “At one point, (Marc) McKenna and (Dustin) Van Meter were blasting along and they went into the drink. In the end, the net result that ended up making the decision was Palin had an accident and nearly tore the ski off his sled.”

McKenna and Van Meter led the race into Nome at the halfway checkpoint, when most of the racers were held up by bad weather. In fact, race officials on Thursday thought the delays would push the expected finish from Saturday to Sunday, but the weather cleared up enough to allow the racers to continue, Kastner said.


The result, he said, was a successful finish that gave fans some excitement in Fairbanks. Last year’s winner came in two hours before the second-place finisher, he said. On Saturday, the top seven teams were all in less than two hours from each other.

Despite the weather delays and challenges, 12 teams finished the Iron Dog, one more than last year, Kastner said. For winning the Iron Dog, Huntington and Olds earned $50,000.

Renee Thony at the Daily News-Miner wrote:

At 3:55 p.m. Saturday, Tyler Huntington and Chris Olds trailed race leaders Todd Palin and Eric Quam by 17 minutes, but when 5:51 rolled around, team No. 10, the Huntington-Olds duo, were first across the finish line of the 2011 Iron Dog snowmachine race.

“I feel like 25,000 bucks,” Huntington said after crossing the finish line and passing the safety inspection on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks. The team won the $50,000 paycheck for the second year in a row.

Palin and Quam, team No. 11, finished second at 6:09.

The two teams were neck-in-neck throughout the day Saturday, and it was near the mouth of the Chena that Olds said he and Huntington caught up to Palin and Quam.

“We were taking it easy heading into Nenana and then we just took off after that,” he said, adding that he speculates Team 11 ran into some trouble along the way and that’s why his team managed to catch up. “We caught up with those guys around the mouth of the Chena.”

As he looked down at the left front ski of his sled, secured with a bright green rope, Palin confirmed Olds’ assumptions.

“The sleds looked good until about 60 miles ago,” the 18-time Iron Dog competitor said. “It’s just part of the race, though. You can be clean up until the very end.”

Huntington and Olds saw their fair share of troubles, as well, including a blown belt in Manley.

“On the first day, we got, well not really lost,” Olds said, “but we just misplaced the trail and that wasted some time. These were excellent machines for us. We didn’t have to turn a wrench on them. They were so durable.”

Whispers heard around the finish line were mostly about Mother Nature and how she had dictated most of this year’s race. For the better part of two days, the race was stalled in Nome on account of “life-threatening” conditions. Race officials postponed the restart there on Thursday and ordered the race to be put under a yellow flag for the first 250 miles of the return to Fairbanks.

“There was lots of snow this year from beginning to end,” Olds said of the course. “It was crazy.”

“Lots of snow,” Huntington, a Fairbanks native, added, “but we just kept going and going and going. When we got stuck, we just got unstuck.”

Although he said he saw “little trail, all snow,” Quam was pleased with the hospitality of the villages the racers stopped in along the way.

“The villages were really good. They always are,” he said. “They were so warm to take us into their homes and take care of us.”

Piper Palin waits to wave the checkered flag when her father crosses the 2011 Iron Dog finish line. (Photo by Tim Akimoff at

KTUU-TV  reported:

As she does more often than not, Mother Nature dictated the terms of the 2011 Iron Dog snowmachine race, but the team of Tyler Huntington and Chris Olds came prepared and won the trophy this year.

The defending Iron Dog champions crossed the finish line Saturday evening to a cheering crowd in downtown Fairbanks.

This year Olds and Huntington rode to bring awareness to Alaska’s high suicide rate, working with state agencies to distribute educational material to the villages along the course route.

The top five money winners in the 2011 Iron Dog were: #10 Huntington/Olds, #11 Palin/Quam, #7 Davis and Davis, #21 Branholm and Spernak, #14 McKenna and Van Meter.

“It feels great,” Tyler Huntington said. “Like $25,000 bucks.” 

Racers survived tough, wet, snowy conditions all the way to Nome, and then blizzard-like conditions held them up for a day in Nome.

Race Marshal Chris Graeber had racers proceed under a yellow caution flag from Nome back to Unalakleet, where the race was officially restarted.

“We kept going as fast as we can as as long as we can,” Huntington said. “We kind of toughed it out.”

A tight race between Team 10 Huntington/Olds and Team 11 Palin/Quam ensued, with the lead changing hands several times down the icy river on a picture-perfect day.

KTUU-TV, which livestreamed the 2011 Iron Dog finish, also has 4 videoclips of the event and a photogallery of the finish.  There is also a photogallery of the Iron Dog Trail.

The Anchorage Daily News also has a photogallery of the 2011 Iron Dog start at Big Lake.

5 Responses to “Four-Time Iron Dog Winner Todd Palin and 2008 Iron Dog Winner Eric Quam Place Second in 2011 Iron Dog Race”

  1. […] Four-Time Iron Dog Winner Todd Palin and 2008 Iron Dog Winner Eric Quam Place Second in 2011 Iron Do… […]

  2. compare resume services…

    […]Four-Time Iron Dog Winner Todd Palin and 2008 Iron Dog Winner Eric Quam Place Second in 2011 Iron Dog Race « Sarah Palin Information Blog[…]…

  3. 2000 miles for 50 grand ? Do Snow Machine people not like to advertise ? It’s hard to wonder what a 2000 miles race has to be on men and equipment. So little said about this outside of Alaska and that is a bit dumb if you ask me.

  4. […] Four-Time Iron Dog Winner Todd Palin and 2008 Iron Dog Winner Eric … […]

  5. jerry said

    Congrats on 2nd place, should have been 1st though. Next year will see a double WIN, Husband & Wife!

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