• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 9s

Readying the Iditarod trails

By Heather Hintze 8:13 AM February 27, 2014

Crews use heavy equipment to grind up hard snow, keep trails safe for dog teams

ANCHORAGE - It takes a community effort to put on the Last Great Race; even more so this year with the lack of snow.

When Dave Cruz heard the Iditarod needed help to keep the race in Willow, he offered his heavy equipment to groom the trails.

“What event in Alaska do you know that garners over 1,000 volunteers that come together in March to put on this event here?” Cruz asked. “It is Alaska, the Iditarod, and it’s a great deal to participate in and it’s a lot of fun.”

Before sled dog teams can hit the trail to Nome for the Iditarod, his crews have to get to it first.

“Not having such a killer snow year, the equipment allows us to keep the trail in runnable, safe condition,” explained his son, Ben Cruz.

The groomer didn’t have to go at it alone.

“We’re basically doing the finished groom after the Snow Cat has run though and left rough areas. We can clean up anything he leaves,” said Bill Luth, trail boss for the Willow Trail Committee.

He rode a snow machine with a mini “Mogul Master” to pitch in with the work. Luth said he enjoys all the prep work it takes to get ready for the race.

“My biggest kick is now with these new four-stroke snowmobiles — that they’re quite enough — I’ll be out on the trails grooming and I’ll come up on dog mushers and you get to talk to them while you’re grooming trails now,” Luth said. “Never could do that before.”

The groomers are a game-changer. The Iditarod thought about moving the race to Fairbanks because of the lack of snow. Once it decided to keep the race in Willow, one option was to move the trail through the woods if the snow was too hard. With Cruz Construction’s help, the route will stay on its regular course.

“They want to keep it on the lake for the spectators which is really important ,” Luth said. “So we did get three inches of snow this week which did make a big difference on how much we’ve got right there.”

The team ensures the trails will be safe for the dog teams when they take off for the 1,000-mile trek.

The bulk of the work should be done by Thursday. Snowmachines will go out on Sunday a few hours before the restart to do some touch up work.

 

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    2 arrested in connection with $30K stolen from Alaska fish hatchery

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 18:39

    Two Palmer men are in custody in connection with a burglary that occurred at an Alaskan fish hatchery last month. On Nov. 8, Alaska State Troopers were notified that $30,000 worth of steel, aluminum and copper had been stolen from the Eklutna Tailrace fish hatchery. The suspects also caused approximately $30,000 worth of damage by “cutting through walls […]

  • News

    Last call to get Christmas gifts in the mail

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 17:07

    The Saturday before Christmas is one of the busiest mailing days of the year — and for good reason. If gifters want to make sure their cards, presents and parcels arrive by Dec. 25, the deadline to send mail first-class or priority is today. “With our transportation network that we have, a lot of our priority […]

  • News

    Anchorage libraries get new self-checkout machines

    by Sierra Starks, Shannon Ballard on Dec 20, 16:24

    Anchorage Public Library is unveiling a new addition to its branch locations. Libraries around Anchorage debuted new self-service checkout machines last week. Z. J. Loussac Public Library launched their new machines Friday. On Saturday, library-goers could be seen testing out the touchscreen feature, returning books and DVDs and checking their account balances. Stacia McGourty, a reference and […]

  • News

    Man fatally struck, trapped under vehicle near downtown Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 20, 14:58

    A man is dead after a pedestrian-involved crash near downtown Anchorage that occurred early Saturday morning. At around 2:30 a.m., police and medics responded to the collision near the 1400 block of 12th Avenue. The 911 caller stated that a man delivering newspapers had struck a pedestrian, according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard rescues stranded Alaska hunter

    by Associated Press on Dec 20, 12:08

    The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a hunter who was stranded on Chicagof Island in Alaska after he was separated from his hunting party. Rescuers in Juneau were alerted that there was a hunter in distress on the nearby island. They launched a helicopter crew to find him in the dark of night. The hunter […]

  • Sports

    Day 2: T-Bird Classic, Cougar Tip-Off

    by KTVA Sports on Dec 20, 11:52

    Day 2 of the T-Bird Classic brought a hot start for the Bears, whose girls won, 51-14, against Eagle River. A bomb threat briefly placed East High School on lockdown and the game was delayed. Kodiak’s Dannika Catt called the long delay at halftime “awkward at first.” “Because we didn’t know if we were still going […]

  • News

    Murkowski expresses concern about North Korean cyber hack

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 19, 22:31

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Friday she is very concerned now that the U.S. has established a link between the North Korean government and a recent hacking attack against Sony. The senator said the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, considers the cyber attack a  national threat. “This hacking is directly linked to North Korea, there’s […]

  • Lifestyle

    VIDEO: Minnesota climber begins solo ascent of Denali

    by John Thain on Dec 19, 21:45

      TALKEETNA - Climbing season on Denali is long over, but for Lonnie Dupre, it’s just beginning. The 53-year-old Minnesota man is attempting to be the first person to summit it alone in January. It’s his fourth attempt after trying similar expeditions in 2013, 2012, and 2011. The closest he came was just over 17,000 feet […]