A Longer Road Home!

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After Team 19′s Iron Dog Finish, I hurried back to my vehicle to get home and begin working on the story. I walked through the parking lot and here were a group of guys disassembling their machines and I noticed the Maine License plate.

I got a quick interview with them as they are really a long way from home. One of the guys drove the truck and trailer from Maine 5000 miles to get to Anchorage in January. Today he is back on the road (By himself) headed back to Maine.

Nice Guys and quite a ride for sure!

Listen to the Interview!

The Long Road Home… With a Little Help from Friends

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Often I am asked WHY? Why do you live in Rural Alaska? It is expensive, challenging, and often not pleasant (weather wise)

But You know WHY we live in Rural Alaska? Because of folks like Vinny Salzbrun and Ozzie Demientieff. The Guys needed a ride for their sleds from Fairbanks to Anchorage and just like Emirel Lagasse on TV– “Bam” they are there with their trucks in Fairbanks. Awesome!!

Team 19 isn’t just Gux and Steven and they want to thank EVERYONE for all of the support! It’s all of the folks just like you and me that contribute to the effort.  You are all part of Team 19!

Thanks Vince and Ozzie! Really appreciated!!

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2014 Iron Dog Banquet – Extremely Interesting…

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A Snowmachine Race is different from many other races. The top 5 teams win cash prizes, but other “contingency” prizes are awarded based on different things. For example a Team can win a prize by being the fastest between certain checkpoints. Another example is winning a prize for using certain equipment. Team 19 didn’t win any prizes for the 2014 Iron Dog, but won the respect of many of the Teams and was singled out as being the first Team in history to finish two consecutive races with the same machine. An amazing feat to be sure. All the rural Race Teams were recognized for the added burden of travel and expense that they must endure to compete in such a race.

I know the recognition was very well received by Gux and Steven. It is a special challenge to run a program from Rural Alaska, but the competition is totally worth it.

As an editorial, I must share something that I noticed during the banquet. There are two classes of Teams that compete in the Iron Dog Pro Class. I won’t say that there is anything unfair about it, but it must be recognized as well when comparing teams and finishes. The first Teams are a TOTALLY different animal than about half or more of the competitors. Let’s call this Extreme Pro. The Extreme Pro has a totally different program than the Standard Pro. We heard during the banquet about mechanics and pilots. Pilots to the extent that one Team may have 3 or more aircraft AND helicopter support. Planes containing a full array of parts AND a mechanic. This Extreme Pro program has multiple machines and race training programs that allow the Team Racers to practice as far as Nome and Fairbanks. They practice using the trail of the Iron Dog. When you compare this against a program like Team 19, the playing field is maybe not as level as it could be. What it means is that it is VERY hard to compete in this field.

What does this mean? It means that if you discount the Teams with Air Support and Professional Training Programs including Mechanics and such, Team 19 really finished way higher than 12th. Gux and Steven spend many hours and many dollars to make their program work. They were lucky to have Frank Neitz for a small air support network, but nothing like the full time pilots and helicopter.

We even heard about a Team whose helicopter warned them about trail conditions!

Steven and Gux ride, mechanic, and finance their program with the gratuitous support of our Main Sponsors– Yamaha Motorsports, Bethel Prop Shop, Donlin Gold, Drew’s Foundation, and the other many Businesses that open their checkbooks and help support this important program.

So bottom line– Team 19 did a GREAT job! They will never have the resources to compete with the Extreme Pro class, but they can hold their heads very high because they improved AND placed in the top 10 of the Normal Pro Class.

How can this be fixed? We need to come up with sponsors who can offer contingency prizes to those Teams who are competing in the Normal Pro Class. This is the Iron Dog’s next challenge so that others can break into the winners circle and help finance their programs.

Nuff Said…

As I looked around the room it was fun to look at all of the teams gear and what they were supporting. In the photos you will see all of the major sponsors and teams represented in the clothing of the Teams. We even got a photo with a celebrity. It was a very fun evening and I can’t wait for next year!

Officially 12th!! Congratulations Team 19!

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For a moment Team 19 was shown as 10th, but they had passed a couple of teams that had time in the bank who were working on their machines. Now the dust has cleared and almost all of the Teams are across the Finish Line.

A large group of Fans from across the State gathered at the Finish Line to cheer on the Team. Weather was bright and brilliant with mild temperatures and warm wishes.

Congratulations to Our Guys- Steven Boney and Arthur “Gux” Laraux! Finishing in 12th Team 19 arrived in to Fairbanks at 15:21:23pm, February 22, 2014. Total Course Time of 46:03:43 with an average of 44MPH from Anchorage to Fairbanks via Nome.

Their performance on and off the trail is often mentioned as admirable and this improvement in place marks also is admirable. Team 19′s Finish is the FIRST in HISTORY of the same Machine finishing a race in two consecutive races. This NEVER happens! Usually all machines are New. Congratulations to Yamaha and Steven and Gux for the preparation and equipment for this feat.

Go Team 19!

Here are the Photos!

 

The Final Stretch – Tired and Ready!

update2Just spoke to the Men in Tanana. They both sound a bit tired and ready for the Finish. Planning for a 2:30-4pm finish for our guys at this point. Word from the trail is a crash in the leading Team 16, has one of the riders racing with a broken wrist. The race isn’t over and this last stretch can be a bear!

I asked them about the close interval and they were not too worried about it. Basically if someone wants to pass, they can go ahead on as they have pretty much locked 13th place and an accident or incident won’t get them to the Finish Line. Smart Men!

Pete Kaiser, who has been training in Nenana, may have some video for us as they pass Nenana.

Listen in on the Interview-

Morning in Tanana

Got these from Cynthia Erickson’s Facebook page from Iron Dog. Gives a good look at the start of a race day.

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