The World’s Coolest Cross Country Snowmobile Race
Do you love snowmobiling? Do you eat, breathe, and live snowmobiling? If this sounds like you and you haven’t heard of the Iron Dog Snowmachine Race then you are in for the thrill of a lifetime. Do you like the idea of racers covering thousands of miles through Alaska’s toughest wilderness during some if it’s toughest winter weather? Then you need to keep reading to find out everything about the Iron Dog Race.
What is the Iron Dog Race?
The Iron Dog race is the ultimate endurance test for snowmobilers. The race currently runs over 2,400 miles of the Alaskan wilderness where the only thing racers can rely on is themselves. Survival skills are equally as important as your riding skills in this race which has the potential to be literally life or death.
The origin of the Iron Dog race begins in Big Lake, Alaska. The race followed the northern portion of the historic Iditarod Trail. Yes, that’s the same Iditarod Trail from the dog race!
The first race was held in 1984 under the name Iron Dog Iditarod. It covered 1,000 miles and racers crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska.
The Current Course
Of course, since 1984 the Iron Dog race has gone through many changes. The route has more than doubled, now sitting at a staggering 2,400 miles across Alaska. The race typically begins in Mid-February when snow conditions in Alaska can be at their worst. Sub-zero temperatures, white-out conditions, and no reprieve for riders.
The current Iron Dog race course begins as it originally did in Big Lake, Alaska, following the Iditarod trail until racers reach the Yukon River in Ruby, Alaska. From there the course follows the river until it reaches Kaltag, Alaska. Then racers head towards the Norton Sound peninsula in the Bearing Sea and follow the coast north to Nome. From there, racers backtrack to Ruby and diverge from their original path towards the finish line in Fairbanks.
Racers attempt to cover hundreds or even thousands of miles in a day. Currently, the shortest time to completion was set in 2016 at just over 35 hours! That means traveling almost 70 miles every hour!
Racers are facing Alaska’s toughest terrain during its toughest time of the year. Many Alaskan native racers will tell you that racers from the lower 48 rarely have what it takes to keep up. Even beyond simply making the journey, racers also need to worry about making food, finding time to sleep, and using the bathroom.
Of course, all of this is happening in the Alaskan tundra during the middle of winter when temperatures can reach 60 below zero. This race takes much more than just the ability to ride your snowmobile. It takes the ability to survive the toughest conditions that Alaska can throw at you all while trying to make the best time.
One of the greatest prizes of the Iron Dog race is the glory of winning. Over the 30+ years of this race, there have been 28 different winners. There have been 15 racers with multiple titles and 12 racers with only a single title. We also have just recently seen the second generation of riders from the same family winning titles that their parents had won.
Apart from the victory of joining the echelon of legendary riders who have defeated this race, there is also the prize money. While prize purses have differed from year to year, the purse for last year’s prize was $100,000!
The Iron Dog Race: The Ride of Your Life
The Iron Dog Race is the world’s longest snowmobile race, and it’s absolutely the most intense. Riders tread thousands of miles across the harshest conditions Alaska has to offer. They battle the clock, they battle the elements, and they battle their own will power. It’s undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and rewarding ways to race your snowmobile. For serious sledders like us, it doesn’t get any cooler!
Interested in learning about the history of snowmobiles? Check out our recent blog about it! After all, without snowmobiles, there wouldn’t be a race like this.