Billed as the “World’s Longest, Toughest Snowmachine Race,” the Iron Dog course totals 2,274 long winter miles. Begun in 1984, this late February race is open to both recreational and pro class racers. Safety is a main part of race culture, so snowmachiners team up to traverse the rugged terrain in pairs.
The course begins in Big Lake (59 miles from Anchorage), with racers enjoying a “halfway banquet” once they get to Nome. Pro class racers leave Big Lake about two days after the recreation class, and the fastest arrive in Nome just a few hours after the recreation class racers – showing just how speedy they are.
Iron Dog and race sponsor Alaska Army National Guard organize a banquet at the Nome Recreation Center, and the community is welcome to the celebration, which includes race awards and stories from the trail. Recreation class racers stop here, while pro class racers journey on to Fairbanks, to complete the final leg of the race. Their trip time? Usually just about 3 days.