:D Good news!!!!!!!!!!!! Will the club ever have a run to Manley or beyond using the Iron dog trail? Would you go if one was scheduled?????
Iron Dog returns to Fairbanks
By TIM MOWRY
, Staff Writer
A year after ditching Fairbanks, the Tesoro Iron Dog Snowmachine Race is returning to the Interior.
The board of directors for the world's longest snowmachine race voted last week to once again include Fairbanks as part of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog course after a surprise decision a year ago to remove Fairbanks from the 2005 race route.
The 2006 Iron Dog will finish Feb. 19 in Fairbanks at Pike's Landing on the Chena River. The start is scheduled for Feb. 12 in Wasilla and Nome remains the halfway point.
The finish of the Iron Dog was moved to Fairbanks in 1997 and remained there through 2002. The race was canceled due to lack of snow in 2003 and the Iron Dog started in Fairbanks in 2004 before organizers returned to the traditional Wasilla-to-Nome-to-Wasilla course last year.
The board made the move back to Fairbanks in large part because participation in last year's race was down and the Fairbanks route is cheaper, said the race's new executive director, Laura Bedard.
With only 40 racers and no trail class riders, participation in last year's Iron Dog was the lowest since 1996, the year before the race finish moved to Fairbanks.
Participation increased significantly when the finish of the race was moved to Fairbanks in 1997 and the highest number of entrants--122--was in 1999.
While the increase wasn't necessarily a result of more Fairbanks racers, Bedard said participation dropped off significantly last year when they omitted Fairbanks.
"Sometimes you've just got to look at numbers," Bedard said. "For whatever reason, last year we saw participation drop.
"Maybe there were some things that came out of the race being canceled in 2003," she said, alluding to the fact that there were several riders who disagreed with the decision to cancel that race.
Only four Interior racers entered last year's Iron Dog, none of whom could be contacted Friday. Dwayne Drake of Fairbanks was the highest local finisher, placing fourth with Andy George of Wasilla.
The decision to pull the Iron Dog out of Fairbanks last year surprised and angered area sponsors of the race but those same sponsors said Friday there would be no grudges held and they would once again support the race.
Jay Ramras, owner of Pike's Landing and Pike's Waterfront Lodge, which serves as the finish line and race headquarters in Fairbanks, said he was willing to "let bygones be bygones."
"I told them it was like when your girlfriend leaves you for another guy and dates him for a while and then asks to come back to you," he said. "Yeah, it hurts a little, but you're glad to have her back because you love her.
"I think we're better to have it than not have it. It's good for Fairbanks."
The only bummer for Ramras, who is a state legislator, is that he won't be in town to watch the finish.
"I'm sorry I'm going to be in Juneau and won't be around to see it," he said.
A Fairbanks finish gives sponsors more exposure and includes more communities in Alaska, Bedard said, noting that the race goes through towns like Tanana, Manley and Nenana. A Wasilla-to-Nome-to-Fairbanks route is also cheaper for the race to run because it costs less to get fuel to Manley, Nenana and Tanana than it does some of the remote checkpoints on the return leg from Nome to Wasilla.
Bedard, who took over June 1 as executive director, stopped short of saying the 20-year-old race was in financial trouble.
"Finances are always a concern," she said. "You always need money to grow."
Tim Mowry can be reached at 459-7587 or email@example.com
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I know that as a FST ride we've discussed it, and I think it would be a great ride.... Of course that is for a one way trip to Nome from FB... :D Don't know if my body could take a full RT.....