Defending Iron Dog champ looks to three-peat

Eagle River rookies hoping to finish grueling race


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Eagle River’s John Dean moves off the ice of Big Lake and into the trees as he and partner Stan Brown begin their 2000 mile trek to Nome and then on to Fairbanks during the start of the 2012 Iron Dog Sunday, Feb. 19.

photo by Robert Deberry/Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

Eagle River’s Chris Olds, the two-time defending Iron Dog champion, started his quest for a third straight title Sunday, Feb. 19 at Big Lake.

“The expectation and the goal is to definitely win this year,” Olds said.

After winning the past two years with Fairbanks’ Tyler Huntington, Olds is riding with new teammate Mike Morgan of Nome. Olds said the duo (Bib 10) has a legitimate chance to take first.

“I think we’ve got a good shot,” he said. “We’re comfortable and confident with our machine.”

The pair is riding a 600cc Polaris Pro R Switchback.

The night before the 27th annual race, Olds said he and Morgan were prepared for the daunting task of riding more than 2,000 miles from Big Lake through Nome to Fairbanks.

“We’ve done all our homework,” Olds said. “We should do well.”

While glitches are inevitable, Olds said, he’s hoping nothing catastrophic occurs to keep the team out of a top-three finish.

Completing the race is no guarantee, even for a veteran like Olds. However, he’s not only finished, but placed high over the past decade. Since 2000, Olds has cracked the top 10 in every race except for scratching in 2004.

“Just finishing it really is a huge accomplishment in itself,” Olds said.

The challenge of the race is what brings Olds back year after year, he said.

“The feeling I get when I finish the race,” he said. “The accomplishment of all the hard work.”

The rookie team of Stan Brown and John Dean, both of Eagle River, will be satisfied with making it to Fairbanks.

“We’re just trying to finish,” Brown said.

Less than an hour before the 11:10 a.m. start time Sunday, the duo was eager to hit the trail.

“I’m getting a little nervous,” Brown said.

Brown said he and Dean logged countless hours preparing for the race.

“We’ve done a lot of training,” he said. “A lot of garage time.”

Dean and Brown are riding a 600cc Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS. The pair (Bib 21) has been snowmachining side by side since middle school, Dean said.

“We’ve been riding together for 15 years,” he said.

Like Olds, Brown and Dean said they want to see if they can tackle the test of the Iron Dog.

“It will be the ultimate challenge,” Dean said.

For updates on the race, visit www.irondograce.org.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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