Wet Iron Dog
At the close of yesterday’s ceremonial start, Todd Palin told Kevin Scholla, Mama Grizzly Radio that it was 38 degrees and raining. It’s going to be a Wet Iron Dog, Palin said.
His partner, Tyler Huntington recovered from a major accident on a training run in 2012. Huntington had hit a log at high speed and crushed his pelvis. Palin said it’s amazing Huntington is even back up and running. Huntington hails from Galena, Alaska, and his grandfather is a Native Elder. Huntington is an Alaskan celebrity and has two Iron Dog championships under his belt. Palin said this race means a lot to Huntington, as it might be his last one. His range of motion is limited and he needs more surgeries. “He’s a great partner, good head on his shoulders, really mild-mannered, goes fast.”
Most people think of snowmachining as cruising on smooth snow, Palin said, not a wet Iron Dog. In 1995, he lost 15 pounds in one week. “You’re moving that tread around, you get into woods and just working your butt off. It’s a fine line of how to dress. Over-dress and you start sweating, and sweating and get dehydrated.” Palin wears a GoreTex shell and at least two under-layers. You can leave Big Lake at 40 F above and arrive at McGrath and it’s -15F.
The Wet Iron Dog is “just a brutal, brutal race. McGrath is 360 miles from the starting line and it has some of the toughest terrain in the state.” Racers are not just Alaskans. Some come from states like Maine and Minnesota. That run takes 8 to 10 hours. The racers take a 12-hour lay-over then begin another tough section in the middle of the night to Galena, followed by an eight-hour lay-over. Then it’s off to the coast for Unalakleet. By Tuesday, they reach Nome, the halfway point. It takes Iditarod mushers eight days to get to Nome. Iron Doggers can do it in 24 hours – even a Wet Iron Dog.
What keeps Palin going in the Iron Dog is the support of his family. All his children grew up with the race. “They enjoy it. They enjoy looking at old pictures of the races and it really shows how fast time goes by.”
This year for the first time, the Iron Dog had its ceremonial start in Anchorage, where racers drove to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, then 15 miles out to Eagle River. Snow was hauled in and laid to make a track for the run. According to a KTUU broadcast, the ceremonial start was set in Anchorage to give back to current fans and create new ones.
“It’s a healthy deal till the last few days, he said. There’s a lot of moving parts that can break. A little 5/16″ bolt that breaks can get you out of the race.” Last year, Palin and Huntington put a lot of miles on training and the snowmachines ran well. But, during last year’s race, a crankshaft bearing failed and “you can’t change a crankshaft out on the trail.” The team scratched.
The Outpost Dealer in Fairbanks provided the sleds. As we reported yesterday, the team are racing on Polaris Switchback® AXYS™ 600 snowmachines. The snowmachine has a 600-CC motor – the largest allowed under Iron Dog rules – and a 136-inch track. “You leave the motor stocked, because you’re going 2,000 miles and you don’t want to risk anything.” The snowmachines ran flawlessly in over 2,000 miles of training, Palin said. The Team has a lot of sponsors.
Honoring Chris Kyle …
Palin and Huntington are supporting the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
“He died doing what he loved to do. He was just a great guy. I sent Taya a couple of pictures of the decals on the sled and she was excited. In 2013, we honored his spirit across Alaska when I took fifth place with my old partner, Scott Davis.
Palin said it was an honor meeting Chris Kyle and the other military ops on Stars Earn Stripes. He said Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper did an awesome job with American Sniper. “Americans were waiting for a movie to lift this hero up,” he said.
Teaser, Downloadable Audio
Todd Palin is on The Palin Update with Kevin Scholla! The former First Dude is embarking on another Iron Dog Race gunning for his fifth championship. Todd and Kevin discuss the weather conditions, what it takes to win, and how Chris Kyle lives on through this grueling event. Plus, Sarah Palin shows off her comedy chops at SNL’s 40th Anniversary Show and we’ll tell you why Alaskans are smiling ear to ear. Also, a brand new segment of Liberty & Legacy with Tamara Colbert in Texas, and Steel Resolve, our weekly commentary with Sarah Steelman in Missouri is showcased. Mama Grizzly Radio is ON DEMAND and available for DOWNLOAD anytime. Mama Grizzly Radio…hear the roar!
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