Very very long read , but it is another incredible story of the Iron Dog race . Thank to Matt Trask for sharing again ....thought some of you may remember .
2015 Iron Dog was an EPIC year for the race, here is a good memory that came up on my FB feed. Enjoy...
I am amazed on how many people were following us along the way, and there is probably a lot of questions. This is Chris and I'll express my side of things.... First of all at Big Lake it felt like we were really rushed with last minute packing and logistics. Didn't get to say goodbye to the family like I would have liked to, Trinity and my dad were running around like crazy, picking up last min things and our pilots needing picked up and dropped off. Thanks guys for understanding and being patient with us. As soon as we started we were pumped, haven't never ran the new trail leaving the lake we were a lil confused but made it through quickly. Knowing the legend Scott Davis was starting right behind us I kept looking back expecting him to pass us, he caught us right before big swamp and I was impressed he was sitting down through a really bumpy part. Once we hit big swamp we were right behind them and followed them on a trail we had never taken, knowing Scott had all the short cuts this was an awesome idea, until the snow dust and visibility was so bad I slowed down for a second and when it cleared them and Ray were out of sight, I didn't know which way they went, I found a trail that I knew and took it, separated from Ray I didn't know where he was, after 20 min of looking we met back up and headed up river, frustrated to say the least but we knew we had a lot of race a head of us, like all of it, haha. As we were running up towards skwetna Ray left me, it was raining and visibility sucked, I hadn't ran the river at all and was unsure its conditions, some teams passed me and then I passed them, about 70 miles into it team 16 passed me and hit a whole and took out the right side of there front suspension. Ray was waiting for me right before skwetna and was frustrated with me, he asked me what was up and I said I can't see and got turned around, he settled down and we kept going sticking together for a long time. By the time we made it to puntilla we were whooped. Fatigued and whore out, we had our first bottle of water and felt way better, we followed team 11 through the pass up till happy valley/hells gate, they pulled away at that point and team 6 caught us as we dropped on the river, we ran with them all the way to Rohn, skipping lots of water and running really fast on an icy wet river, we knew at Rohn things were gonna slow down cause of conditions, ZERO SNOW. We would ride till we overheated and stop and wait, trying to find chunks of ice to put on our coolers and anytime there was water we would drive through it to try and cool things down. At one point there was a semi frozen lake and there was 4 teams going around in circles trying to get cooled, 1x1 teams would start heading up the trail, we would leap frog each other as we overheated. Every time we stop we would laugh at how rediculous it was. After we got through the burn we were in miles and miles of the harshest frozen tussocks, so rough at 15 miles an hour the handle bars would get ripped out of our hands. We had our side panels off to try and keep things cool, we came around a corner and there was a stretch of open water, Ray made it through but his wake caused me to get my belt wet, there I was in knee deep water, I put my clutch side side panel back on and laid my machine on its side giving it full throttle to dry my belt off and at the same time lowering it back into the water, it pulled out like a wave runner and I made it through, all taking about 3 min, I thought Ray had kept going so I raced down the trail for 10-15 miles trying to catch up. I realized there is know way he would have left me for that long so I stopped, another team pulled up and said he was stuck in the water and I though oh no I don't want to ride back down that trail, they explained that he was ok and on his way, so I sat and waited and he showed up about 15 min later, he had turned around to help me out of the water and he too had sunk but I didn't see or hear him. We laughed it off and kept going. Finally making it to McGrath, knowing there was at least 30 stops to let things cool down and 3 hours on the trail just sitting waiting for the same thing. We got rested up, sore as ever we took off the next day and had a clean fast run to Ophir, same as last year, feeling loosened up we started towards poorman, another horrible trail, but there was little snow and ice so at least we weren't over heating. This was it for us we both wanted to quit, we were so brutally sore and tired, I was ready to lay over and die, a number of times I thought I cant go on I'm done, and then I'd think about the wife and kids and know that I had to keep going to at least the next check point, we made it to Poorman and the checkers had powerade which was amazing, and we headed towards Ruby the Galena, our pilots were waiting in Galena and they could see we were done, they pushed us into the house and put us to bed, the next morning they woke us with breakfast and told us we had to keep going, giving us motivation. Knowing we had a lot of river to run it would be smooth and fast so we headed out. We kinda had a plan to push through Unalakleet and run the coast in the daylight, but by the time we got there I was so hungry and knowing the hospitality there I told ray let's hold up there and get some food and rest. So we did, little did we know that with a south west wind that it would blow the tide in on the bay's. When we got up we got report of a team that had sunk by Shaktoolik. We headed that way knowing some of the challenges from last year. Once we got to Shaktoolik we ran into the team that sunk and they asked if they could ride with us across the sound. We said absolutely, I told them to lead they way cause they knew where the water was. Shortly after we left we ran into the Lake/river they sank in. They hesitated for a second and Ray and I jetted across, the followed right behind us. And then there the 4 of us were heading across the sound at 90-100 mph, flat and smooth. We were coming up to koyuk and you could see the light of the village, I was in from and all of a sudden we were on open water on the ocean, it was choppy and loaded with ice chunks, my belt was getting wet from the rough travels from water then ice then water and ice, I started sweeping to the left in the water trying to circle back, as I was turning around I looked and the three of them were doing the same trying to turn around on open water in the middle of the ocean, we all managed to get back to the ice without sinking, it was sketchy and nerv racking. We were trying to figure a way across when a local came out and showed us the way. We got fuel and headed on our way, we went over land for a while and then dropped on to Golivan bay, this area is smooth and flat for miles, we were all 4 still together and holding it to the bar for at least 7-8 minutes, I looked down and was doing 103 on my speedo, ray just behind me to the left and team 33 right behind them. We were flying, I've never held it to the bar for that long without letting off, and remember it's pitch black with only our headlights. Then all of a sudden at 100+ mph the ice went away, we were now on open water, there was nothing we could do but lean back and keep it to the bar, it seemed like forever we were on the water, not knowing where the other side was, not being able to see land and dark black water underneath you, I looked back and there was still 3 head lights so I knew I was the only one not knowing if we were headed for Russia or not. I looked at my GPS that's mounted to our bars and it said we were on the trail so just kept it as straight as possible and finally we hit ice on the other side, not knowing how deep it was and how far we had gone, when we hit the ice it was one of those moments you wanted to stop and kiss the ice, but we didn't, we just kept it to the bar not knowing if we were gonna hit more water or not, finally we made it to Golivan and were on land, we finished our way to Nome with team 33 and it felt great to get there.
Ok I'll post more this evening of our nome experience and the second half. Sorry but fingers are still sore and gotta take a break from typing.
Team #5 Carroll/Chvastasz