We’ve got you covered
Watch the race — from Deshka Landing to Fairbanks, and even on your phone
By MELISSA DEVAUGHN
THE 2019 IRON DOG RACERS WILL PASS THROUGH more than 20 communities on their way to the finish line. This race is one of the most exciting times of the year for many of these remote villages and towns, who often see few visitors. So, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of people who will be able to watch live.
Still, Iron Dog knows there are thousands of fans out there who may not have such front-row seats for the races. So the race has come to you.
Those new to the sport of snowmachine racing have many opportunities leading up to and after the Iron Dog race to meet teams, ask questions and determine if they have what it takes to become a future Iron Dog champion. Drop in on the Donlin Gold Safety Expo anytime between 1 and 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Menard Sports Center in Wasilla. This is where teams are inspected before given approval to race. Fans can talk to racers, see the packing list of gear spread out, inspect the snowmachines, and enjoy some extra family fun and excitement. The racers also will draw their starting order at the expo, starting at 5 p.m.
Two days later on Feb. 17, Iron Dog pro racers will officially start their race, taking off in two-minute intervals at Deshka Landing, milepost 70.5 of the Parks Highway. The start was moved from Big Lake due to lingering safety concerns over ice stability.
If you splurge on a ticket to Nome, or live there already, you’ll get a unique perspective on how hard teams are racing, the toll it takes on them and their machines, the halfway awards banquet and the release for the second leg of the course to Fairbanks. It’s also the finish line for Trail Class riders and a chance to hear their tales from the trail.
In Fairbanks, the crowd will gather to watch weary racers as they sprint to the finish. The finish moves back to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, which for years was the traditional end point.
“Pike’s Landing is going to be 50 years old in 2019, so we love hosting unique Alaskan sporting events like this to help celebrate,” said Pike’s Riverfront Lodge owner Jay Ramras. “We’re excited – we’ve got a giant, 12-by-8 sign in the middle of our parking lot that has the route of the race and the history of the race. We are delighted for the race to come back to this part of the Chena.
“We just think it’s going to be a great sporting event – there is so much room on the river and in our parking lot for snowmachine trailers and friends and family, we just want everyone to have fun and enjoy it.”
Cheer racers on from the sidelines or watch from the lodge. The first teams are expected to start showing up in Fairbanks sometime on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Either way, it will be a good time, said John Woodbury, executive director of the Iron Dog.
“Post race events include an awards ceremony at Pike’s immediately following the fi nish, and there is usually a pretty racous afterparty following the awards,” Woodbury said. “On April 2, we are planning the raffle draw combined with the Iron Dog Hall of Fame ceremony in Anchorage. We are working with friends of Iron Dog to secure a venue large enough for the anticipated crowd, so check www.irondog.org for updates on this event.”
Out of sight but on your device
Stay abreast of the action using the latest technology. Watch news coverage on KTUU Channel 2, listen on the radio, or surf the Iron Dog website and Facebook page. Expect news coverage and prerace information from KTUU before and during the race.
The South Anchorage High School Media Team will be providing live streaming coverage from the start line in Deshka Landing, all the way to the finish line in Fairbanks. It’s a tradition that began in 2015 and is going into its fifth year.
“Our students will be streaming the start of the race, the Nome garage, and the finish of the race, as well as collecting video and audio data for future commercials and fillers for live streams,” said Lee Butterfield, South Anchorage’s electronic media teacher. “Our students are also working on commercials for the events and activities related to Iron Dog as we speak and will be aired on local television and streamed on the South Anchorage High School YouTube Page (Be sure to check it out at https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCQyWqa3IHaljxxkNctJXg5w).”
Woodbury said Butterfield’s students are proving that the younger generation really is the future. With all of the material the teens have provided, Iron Dog spectators are better informed than ever.
“Social media, television, radio, print ads, race guides – all are outlets to share what Iron Dog is all about, and each requires a unique plan to make an effective use of the medium,” he said. Butterfield’s team of teens is key to all of that, he added.
As for Butterfield, it’s a win-win situation: Iron Dog gets coverage, and his students get valuable life experience.
“Our students get real-world experience in media, broadcast, digital design, and field engineering throughout this experience,” he said. “They work with a real client, providing a highly technical product with deadlines and the stress of managing a live worldwide stream of an internationally known event. Racers get coverage and connection to fans that reach further than ever before. We have viewers from around the world tune in to watch the race unfold and have racer family members that feel more connected to their racers through the work done by these students.”
Other ways to get the latest
For the most current live stream online, go to www.irondog.org/live as well as find previous live streams.
For web-based and mobile viewing information and near-realtime GPS tracking, visit www.iron, and look for Race Tracking, where you can follow your favorite team.
Follow the hashtag #irondog2019 for updates all along the route.