Snow machine drivers from the Kenai Peninsula have dominated the longest, toughest snowmachine race in history ever since it's inception in 1984. The grueling Tesoro Iron Dog. A race that covers 2000 miles of the most rugged terrain on earth at speeds up to 100 miles per hour in temperatures that can reach -60 below.
The 2004 win was the third for snow machine champion racer Dusty VanMeter whose partner, 4 time Iron Dog winner Mark Carr, finished right behind Dusty this year. "It's all about preparation, training, and the way we ride. I guess you can call it finesse riding, knowing when to go at high speed and keep the sled in good shape," said VanMeter. The dynamic duo of VanMeter and Carr awed the spring break luncheon meeting of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce last week at the Paradosis restaurant in Kenai, telling the story of their 2004 Iron Dog win. "It was an opportunity for the kids that were home on spring break to join us for lunch and meet these champion racers," said Colleen Canady, Kenai Chamber executive director.
The team brought their winning Ski-Doo sled with them and parked it outside for the kids and anyone interested to take a look at. They also displayed their custom locally designed helmets with break lights. Snowmachining is extremely popular on the Kenai Peninsula, but running the Iron Dog takes the sport to another level. The team told of starting in last position, crashing early on, and driving hundreds of miles with a broken windshield and enduring frostbite before they could get a replacement. When asked why they continued to run the race after having won it previously, Mark Carr said, "It's a real adventure, and after you've won it once there's only one thing to do and that's to win it again. It's the challenge, I've played just about every sport through school and several other semi-professional sports, and there is no other sport that compares to challenge, the preparation you have to do and how much you have to think on the trail and know how fast to take it without really hurting it." Carr said that the most memorable part of the race was after leaving Galena when they knew they were chasing their former partners in lead and passing them after about 30 miles out.
VanMeter said the Peninsula had a lot of great riders who could do very well in the Iron Dog, "There are a lot more people who would be able to compete and do well in this race. This area has a natural drive to try and be the best at whatever you do, but it's expensive and you have to pay your dues." Dusty wants to keep running until he has more wins than anyone else, but for now he is enjoying being the 2004 Iron Dog Champion.
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