Iron Dog expedition class sets out to break trail

After a 2-hour delay, 12 teams take off from the Menard Sports Center
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 6:10 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - With only two more days left to go until the Iron Dog pro class hits the trails for the world’s longest and toughest snowmachine race, leading the way are the teams of trail class riders. As pro racers completed their tech inspection inside the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center, 12 teams totaling 41 riders of expedition class lined up outside in the rain.

The expedition class offers a non-competitive, but equally tough trail ride starting in Wasilla and ending at the halfway point in Nome. It’s designed as a sort of practice run for those considering going pro or for anyone who wants to run the trail without the pressure of competition. Veteran Brian Jurenka of team 88 said this year he wanted to take family along.

″We always like to go to Nome,” Jurenka said. “Didn’t want to spend the time and the energy into pro class so we’d like to take our friends and family up the trail on trail class.”

Weather conditions for the start were looking promising earlier this week with mild temperatures and plenty of snowfall accumulation, but a recent storm brought warmer air and rain to the southern areas of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, causing snow to compact and creating a slush pool in the center’s parking lot. But that didn’t stop teams from being ready to hit the trail.

“I wished for other weather than this weather,” said rookie Scott Campbell of Team 93. “But we’ll get through it and just take our time and save the iron, save the body.”

Iron Dog expedition class riders are generally expected to cover their own personal expenses along the trail such as food, accomodation and unexpected expenses, but are provided fuel, oil and basic instructions regarding the route. A celebration banquet will be held in Nome on Tuesday when the trail class finishes and the pro class reach the halfway point.

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