The Morning After

by Harriett Hamilton Fenerty

Well here we are again another year of Iron Dog racing. I have been at it for as long as a few of the fantastic racers……I am finally of majority age if we think that is 18,,,,,at my Iron Dog age, I am able to vote, I would be able to race in the Pro Class……so why do I feel I have already done the trip across the burn, traveled the ravines and creek beds along the Ophir/Poorman section, flown over the 5 big river beds in Central Alaska, been on the sea ice with no life preserver so many times I wonder about my sanity to get on and do it again…..year after year, I say nope, gonna walk away, and then 50 weeks later I find myself not able to stay away, the screen beckons, the sound of engine roar fills my ears and I can’t stop thinking Iron Dog for a full 10 days.

For those 10 days in February, I get the best ever “Family Reunion”. I get to see racers, catch up with volunteers that have been at this Iron Dog game way longer than I have. I get to overhear the stories that racers have to tell, bubbling over with excitement and enthusiasm, seeing the event up close and personal in a way that helps me understand a little more why they do what they do for six months of planning, sacrificing, giving up so much either financially or emotionally to put it “ALL IN” for this race.

I can’t stress enough or ever come up with adequate vocabulary to describe the way these racers have a different way of thinking,,,,,,how can they be so competitive, end up as friends at the end of the day and night and be so willing to get in the ring again…..I know it sounds kind of corny, but I think the only thing that I can say is it feels like sibling relationships…..I had to do a little google searching….and sure enough there was a family study done, it describes what I am thinking …. one sentence in the study helped me realize I wasn’t crazy for thinking….

“Not surprisingly, many of us begin our lives having close contact and a growing emotional bond with our siblings. Except for moments of sibling rivalry, we often turned to our siblings for entertainment, support, and advice.” We have all done that this week…..we turned to, we tuned in and what we got in return was the entertainment and walking away with a satisfied feeling of support… always feels better to give than to receive.

Well as for the advice, I can only say, the Iron Dog needs you: the 2014 race is over, but the event goes on, it is a year round job for Kevin and Laurel, the board. Even though the racers wrap it up in the next month, they are all already thinking about next year, the rookies have been watching the leader board and began thinking they could do this, the next generation is in bud form and come the third week of February 2015 we will have some new kids and the family reunion starts all over!!!!

As for my part, I have the best seat in the house…..I left my camera in the room last night, I took off my Iron Dog badge and watched the room with big eyes. I teared up more than several times, not for what was being said in the moment, but because my roll as den-mother is to observe and enjoy the moment. I did that and some. I have watched Tyson go from a 17 year old racer with his dad back in 1997 to a young man with high hopes of sitting atop the podium, he hasn’t been on the highest step, he had some tough luck and this year was no exception. He has the mad skills to make it happen, I predict some year the moon and the stars will line up and he will be there on the top step…..

I caught several money pictures of the two men that hold records that I stand in awe of Scott Davis and John Faeo at the start line at the ½ way line and yesterday at the finish line. I heard the words of so many others, witnessed the emotion that runs so high after a hard week of competition break the dam, the pressure released like a dike on the Erie Canal….there was a standing O for the guy that says he has retired…..Scott thank you for all your personal drive to participate over the past 30 years. You and John have inspired the next generations, given them something to chase, shown them that with a little ingenuity anything is possible……

This year when I started my countdown back in October, I started my journey to write about my thoughts, my ideas. I write my feelings, sometimes they are clear, sometimes they are rambling, but I also know I write with love in my heart for Iron Dog, for the racers, their families, the volunteers that keep the thing going and most of all for the sponsors that keep the doors open so that Laurel and Kevin can keep putting on such a great show!!!

Congratulations to all the racers for participating but most of all to Sweet 16 taking home a Championship that was hard earned and well deserved.

I had a blast this week, I am more tired than I have ever been for an Iron Dog, I have aged many years and I know I earned a couple more grey hairs this week, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I will work on getting the final pictures uploaded today…..thank you for all the positive encouragement to keep the posts coming. Until next year……Iron Dog Maiden, Facebook den-mother……Feb 23, 2014

P. S. Team 6, Andy and Brad George, amazing ride, beautiful performance. I got the explanation of the nickname “Bo Peep” Andy has nicknamed all of his kids, the one that stuck for Brad is “Brad Bo Peep” in a hurry it might be shortened to Bo, I think it takes a confident man to have a Mother Goose nursery rhyme character to mark his Iron Dog wear……hats off to you two for such a fantastic show together, congratulations on a great finish!!!!


  1. vicky says

    Nice write-up. always good to hear more of an inside-description of the Iron Dog. For most, it’s a bit anti-climactic to vicariously partake based solely on the start, the finish & a GPS web site…maybe Iron Dog directors could invest a little into video-capture along the trail, interviews w/ the racers more spot reporting, blogging & video, video, video ytube etc.

    The Palins have helped introduce the Iron Dog to the lower 48, good on Sarah Facebook postings, so once interest is peaked from Sarah’s posting, more people from the lower states look to the Iron Dog website for more coverage.Also worth a mention is how cool it was for champions Todd Palin & Scott Davis to travel to Nome to help their fellow competitors even though they scratch earlier in the race. Likewise, cool of Sarah Palin & her parents the Heaths to travel to Fairbanks to cheer on the finishers even though Todd was no longer in the race.