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Archive for the ‘Big Lake’ Category

Injury to Davis and Damage to Snowmachines Caused Iron Dog Champs to Scratch

Posted by Dr. Fay on February 24, 2010

Todd Palin and Scott Davis Unloading Their Snowmachines

Davis/Palin warming up before 2010 Tesoro Iron Dog race

Davis/Palin waiting for start signal

And they were off!

On Monday, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported that the Davis/Palin team had withdrawn from the 2010 Tesoro Iron Dog race due to an injury sustained by Davis during an accident:

As of early Monday evening, five teams were forced to bow out of the 27th annual race that leads teams from Big Lake to Nome and on to Fairbanks. Among that group is the team of past Iron Dog champions, Scott Davis and Todd Palin, who officially scratched in Puntilla Lake.

Iron Dog officials confirmed Monday morning that Davis injured his back about 30 miles past Puntilla Lake late Sunday evening. The full extent of the injury had not been reported to Iron Dog headquarters, but Davis and Palin did have to make their way back to Puntilla Lake and had since returned to Big Lake.

The Peninsula Clarion added some initial details on Tuesday as they reported:

In the Pro Class, Soldotna’s Scott Davis and Wasilla’s Todd Palin scratched due to a variety of factors, according to Regina Daniels, the wife of Davis. Davis has seven Iron Dog titles. He is tied with John Faeo for the most wins in race history. Palin has four titles.

Daniels said both Palin and Davis crashed in separate accidents going into Skwentna, which is the first checkpoint in the race that goes from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks.

Daniels said the crashes caused damange to snowmachines and caused the pair to lose time. The pair rode ahead to Puntilla, but there decided to scratch.

The cause of the scratch was listed as injury, but Daniels said Davis’ aching back was just one of the factors that caused the duo to scratch. She said Davis’ back injury was not severe, because the pair rode 300 miles back toward Wasilla on Monday after scratching.

This report is consistent with Governor Palin’s tweet:

At the time the decision was made to withdraw from the race, the Davis/Palin team was showing up in Position Number 1 on the Iron Dog 2010 GPS Tracking page. Alerted by @TraceyPorreca’s tweet (see below), I saw this personally by following the link to the tracking page.

So at the time they withdrew because of equipment problems, they stood a very good chance of winning the race. They had drawn a starting position of 22, from which they had raced to the head of the pack. It must have been a heart-wrenching decision to withdraw from the race and was certainly made with due consideration of all factors involved.

There is always another year, another race, and another championship. And we are here to cheer them on!

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Posted in (Mat-Su) Valley, Big Lake, Scott Davis, snowmachines, Todd Palin | Leave a Comment »

Time for the Iron Dog!

Posted by Dr. Fay on February 22, 2010

By Tracey Porreca – Finding Myself In Alaska

Alaska is a unique place. We have a lot of things here that are not common in the lower 48. We all know that winter is on it’s way out when we start having events like the Iron Dog. There is a great deal of interest in the race because of one of it’s participants, Todd Palin, husband to Sarah Palin. Here is a little history on the event from the Iron Dog Website:

The first Iron Dog event started in 1984, in Big Lake following the Northern Route of the Historic Iditarod Trail to Nome. The event began as the “Iron Dog Iditarod”, but the name was quickly changed the next year to the “Gold Rush Classic”, in 1990 the race was recognized as the “Iron Dog Gold Rush Classic” for a decade until Tesoro Corporation became a title sponsor, thus recognizing today’s event as the Tesoro Iron Dog.

Today’s Iron Dog course length 1971 miles, starting in Big Lake to Nome and finishing in Fairbanks, making it the World’s longest snowmobile race. Participants must traverse in some of Alaska’s the most remote and rugged terrain while confronting some the harshest winter conditions. Survival skills are essential, making it the World’s toughest snowmobile race. All teams in race classes are a team of two persons and two snowmobiles for safety…
(To see the whole story, follow this link.

The Iron Dog is Alaska’s Nascar. The race starts on Big Lake which is very appropriately named because of it’s size. This lake covers roughly 13 square miles. Go to Mapquest or GoogleEarth and check out Big Lake, Alaska and you’ll see what I mean. The actual race starting line is on the lake near an island that is home to the Islander Lodge. In the summer, you can only get to this lodge by boat but in the winter you can drive to it. Ever seen Ice Road Truckers? What they have is a plowed road system out on Big lake, and that is how you get to the start of the Iron Dog.

Driving on one of the ice roads out to the starting point

The Islander Lodge

There is something of an Alaskan “fair” feeling to this event. People are walking around, running it to others they know and catching up. There are a few vendors and many, many people ride out on their own snowmachines.

Planes with skis also use the lake and were taking off

The Army National Guard is a huge supporter and a strong presence. Here is one of the vehicles they bring out every year

They line up along the chute, which is plowed and has fencing on each side.

The racers are in pairs for safety because this is an extremely dangerous sport. Flying across frozen lakes, rivers, and tundra at speeds of 50, 60, 70+ is dangerous in itself, not to mention the temperatures in the interior can reach -40 degree below zero or more. Going 70 mph in -40 degree weather is punishing on the skin and the body. Racers put duct tape on the exposed skin on their faces to protect it.

They wear very warm gear, have to have a knowledge of arctic survival and have to be able to make repairs to their machines out on the trail. And it can really hurt if you’re going 70 mph and hit something and get thrown from your sled. This happened last year to one team only 2 minutes into the race. One team member hit something that was buried in the snow, it stopped his snowmachine cold, and he went flying. The race was done for that team. Even Todd Palin has fallen victim to this. One year he was thrown from his snowmachine and finished the race with a broken arm. Rest is a luxury but there are a few times during the race that mandatory layovers take place. Todd and his partner Scott Davis are pros, though. Todd first won the Iron Dog in 1995. Here is footage of the finish of that race with the interviewer talking to Sarah about how she feels about his racing:

Todd last won this race in 2008, when he was injured. Here is video of that finish:

(Click here to read an article written last year in Men’s Journal Magazine about the snowmaching, famous “First Dude”)

If you’d like to follow the race, each team has a GPS unit on their snowmachine and you can track their progress by following this link.

I’d like to share some personal photos from last year’s Iron Dog. I had the opportunity to speak briefly to Sarah before the race and had my picture taken with her. You can read more about that experience here and look at some of the photos that go along with the story

Sarah arrived to see Todd off and took a few photos with some of the spectators

I even had a chance to speak to Sarah and have my picture taken with Sarah and Trig

Todd Palin and his race partner Scott Davis greeting fans

Last year Todd had all the kid’s names painted on his snowmachine, as well as Sarah “The Gov”

And, let the ceremony begin! The Army National Guard presents the colors, the National Anthem is played, and we say the Pledge of Allegience.

Sarah gives Todd and hug and kiss and says goodbye

Sarah wishes all the racers luck and then she and Piper get ready to drop the flag to start the race

Piper got to drop the flag for the start of the race. Sarah’s dad Chuck Heath is just to the right of the security guard

After a few other racers, Scott Davis (left) and Todd Palin pulled up to the starting line

And then they got the signal to head down the chute

They are on the trail now. Please keep them in your prayers for a safe return!

UPDATE: To view photos of the Iron Dog start today, check out this link to KMBQ 99.7 Valley Radio

– To see more posts from this author, please check out Finding Myself In Alaska

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Posted in Alaska, Big Lake, Chuck Heath, Governor Sarah Palin, Ice Road, Iron Dog, Islander Lodge, Piper Palin, Scott Davis, Todd Palin | Leave a Comment »