ANCHORAGE – The 2020 Iron Dog race will now start in Fairbanks and include a roughly 375-mile loop around Kotzebue, before returning south to a finish in Willow.
“This year is really a history-making course for the Iron Dog,” says Iron Dog’s executive director John Woodbury. “It’s never been run before. Now, this year’s race is anyone’s race to win.”
The move comes after much consideration over a course that has been etched into the memories of veteran racers to the point that racing it is no longer the challenge it used to be, Woodbury said.
“The machines have gotten so efficient, and the riders have really become true athletes,” he says. “The course had become overrun by technology and fitness, and so we needed to up the game to make the course challenge both of those components again.”
The new course is sure to add renewed excitement to an already fast-paced and white-knuckled race. Leaping from approximately 2,050 miles to 2,409 miles, the course incorporates the Archie Ferguson/Willie Goodwin Memorial Snowmachine Race course, a long-established trail well-known among racers in rural Alaska. This added loop will be new territory for racers, restoring the adrenaline that goes with racing in the unknown.
The added loop also means racers will now spend a lot more time in the saddle and less at rest checkpoints. Woodbury says he thinks while racers’ sleds will essentially stay the same, the longer race format will change the way racers strategize in other ways:
“I think what will change is how they drive these machines and their parts list, and their attitude toward conserving energy, muscles, fuel and parts,” Woodbury says.
Plans continue to unfold for the 2020 Iron Dog Race – a new era in snowmachine racing for racers and spectators alike. Stay tuned to irondog.org for more updates as plans continue, or follow us on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook.
2020 Iron Dog
Mark your calendars for these pivotal dates, and check back often for time and location updates.
Dec. 7: Rookie Workshop: Location and time TBA
Mid-February: 2020 Iron Dog Recreational Class Tech Inspection
Recreational class tech inspection, likely held at two locations, Wasilla and Fairbanks, TBA
Feb. 13: 2020 Iron Dog Recreational Class Start
WHEN: 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13
WHERE: Pike’s Waterfront, 1850 Hoselton Road, Fairbanks
WHO: Recreational Class riders head up the Iron Dog trail, through the Kotzebue loop and on to Nome. Wish them well as they embark on their 1,375-mile journey.
Feb. 14: Safety Expo/Pro Class Tech inspection
WHEN: 1-8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14
Racer move in: time TBA
Sponsor/vendor set-up: Time TBA
Marshal meeting: Time TBA
Opens to public/ Safety Expo: 1-8 p.m.
WHERE: Fairbanks, Gottschalks Building, 1255 Airport Way
WHO: This is a free, public event hosted by Iron Dog and its generous sponsors. Vendors and race teams will be on hand. Learn how to become a safer outdoors person. All of the Pro Class snowmachines will be on display, and racers will be on hand to meet and greet.
HOW: Mandatory racer/marshal meeting. All vehicles and snowmachines must have a drop cloth beneath them. Racers must be present at the expo. More details coming. Check here often!
Feb. 15: 2020 Iron Dog Racer’s Draw
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 15, Time TBA
WHERE: Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center, Fairbanks, 813 Noble St., Fairbanks, (907) 456-7722, https://www.westmarkhotels.com/destinations/fairbanks-hotel/
WHAT: Pro Class team starting order is determined here. The event includes the Calcutta drawing and Hall of Fame induction. Seating is limited, check back here for ticket pricing and availability.
Feb. 16: 2020 Iron Dog Pro Class Start
WHEN: 11 a.m., Pike’s Waterfront, 1850 Hoselton Road, Fairbanks
WHAT: Watch the Pro Class racers head out on their new 2,409-mile course toward the checkered flag in Willow. Check out the starting line sponsors, vendors and activities. Grab some snacks and a hot drink and bring your cowbells, cheering voices and enthusiasm.
Feb. 16: 12-hour layover, all teams, Galena
Feb. 17: 12-hour layover, all teams, Kotzebue
Feb. 18: Garage time, Nome
Feb. 19: 2020 Northern Air Cargo Nome Halfway Banquet
WHEN: 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Nome Mini-Convention Center, 102 River St., (907) 443-2911, https://www.nomealaska.org/egov/apps/locations/facilities.egov?view=detail&id=4
WHAT: Welcome the Iron Dog Recreational Class riders to Nome, grab a sandwich and possibly win a door prize from NAC. Pro Class contingency prizes will be awarded. Free and open to the public.
Feb. 20: 12-hour layover, all teams, Galena
Feb. 21: 12-hour layover, all teams, McGrath
Feb. 22: McGrath to Puntilla, Hold times in Puntilla TBD,
Feb. 22: 2020 Iron Dog Pro Class Finish
WHEN: 10 a.m.-? Saturday, Feb. 22
WHERE: Willow Community Center
WHAT: Watch the Pro team finishers come into Willow after 2,400-plus miles of bone-jarring racing, and into the winner’s circle. Finish times are approximate. Check out the finish line sponsors, vendors and activities.
Feb. 23: 2020 Iron Dog Awards Brunch
WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 23, time TBA
WHERE: Mat-Su Resort, 1850 E. Bogard Road, Wasilla
WHAT: Pro team finishers are awarded cash, prizes and trophies. Also includes sponsor recognition, Hall of Fame follow-up and Raffle Drawing