“Well, they’re off! The Iron Dog race is under way and, for the 21st time, Todd Palin is in the mix. The former first gentleman of Alaska is part of Team 11 with Tyler Huntington. This first-time pairing brings quite a resume to the race, with Palin having won the event four times and Huntington a two-time champion.” … Kevin Scholla, Breitbart.com
Former Iron Dog champion Todd Palin with his wife, former Gov. Sarah Palin at the start of the race Sunday on Big Lake. (Loren Holmes photo)
By Marion Algier – AskMarion
Palin team tows back to Big Lake: After close to 24 hours of everyone wondering what had happened to the highest profile competitor in Alaska’s Iron Dog snowmachine race, race officials Monday morning posted on their Facebook page that Todd Palin is broken down but undeterred. “Our race marshals just informed us that Todd and Tyler (Huntington, his teammate) are planning to leave soon from Skwentna. They will tow back to Big Lake for repairs, and intend to continue just as soon as they can!” The duo obviously suffered major damage to at least one of their sleds only 80 miles into the 2,000 mile race from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. The leaders of that race were resting Monday morning in the tiny community of McGrath on the north side of the Alaska Range and are expected to be on the Yukon River heading for the Bering Sea coast by the time Palin and Huntington reach Big Lake. Their hopes for winning this year’s race are over whether they actually decide to continue or not after making repairs.
Sarah posted: “When the girls told Trig that daddy had to leave the race, he still said, “Go, daddy!”… And it’s sort of his first “sentence” that’s kind of clear! We’re proud of our boy!
The 2014 installment of the Iron Dog will likely include some unusual challenges. The trail may be in its worst condition since the race started back in 1984. Warmer temperatures have led to less snow, and that means racers will not only be facing a grueling journey that’s over 2000-miles long but plenty of dirt, open water, and ice.
You have to expect the unexpected in this annual test of endurance. The experienced racers know this. “You could have a perfect run and then Mother Nature could throw you a curve ball,” Palin told Breitbart Sports before starting the race Sunday. “You can only control what you can control. Go out there and have the best run you can have and you have a chance.”
This incredible competition stretches from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. It’s tough. Just like those who participate in it. Palin’s new partner exemplifies toughness. He shattered his pelvis last year during a practice run and missed the big race. Instead of moving on, he rehabbed and trained to get back on the sled. Now he is racing again with his new partner. “It would have been like letting Iron Dog get the best of me if I didn’t come back,” Huntington said. Talk about Alaskan spirit.
If you notice a touch of pink on the sleds of Palin and Huntington, you are seeing right. Team 11 and some other Ski-Doo racers are raising awareness and money for Breast Cancer Focus, an all-volunteer group that lends a hand to those fighting the disease and their families. Palin’s sled is also decorated with the names of his family. Sarah, for his wife and former Alaska governor. Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig for his children. Tripp and Kyla for his grandkids. The Iron Dog is clearly a family affair.
“No one could race in this without family support,” Palin said. “Everyone makes sacrifices for this to all come together.” Palin certainly felt that family support at the starting line. Sarah Palin, Willow, Piper, and Trig were all there to see him off. Even Willow’s dog couldn’t resist the excitement of the Iron Dog.
The Iron Dog is one of two classic Alaskan races that take place every year. The Iditarod will mush it’s way into the forefront next month. But, before the sled dogs show up, all eyes are on the Iron Dog. An incredible race featuring some incredible individuals.
To track Todd Palin’s progress on the trail via GPS visit www.sarahnet.net