• 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

  • News

    Open on Thanksgiving: Workers say it’s about more than a bolstered paycheck

    by Eric Ruble on Nov 26, 22:58

    Most people would argue the biggest perk of working on a holiday is the extra pay. But at Kaladi Brothers Coffee on Northern Lights Boulevard, the staff said there are other benefits to working on Thanksgiving. “We didn’t have as many customers as we typically have, but they were very grateful that I was here,” […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Skip Black Friday, shop local

    by John Tracy on Nov 26, 16:30

      Black Friday: The retail cure for the Thanksgiving hangover. Big box stores lure us in with one-time only deals, and we respond like Santa to sugar cookies. Last year, Americans spent more than $50 Billion dollars on Black Friday weekend. But, before you set your alarm clock for 5 a.m., I want to encourage you […]

  • News

    Mountain View gas station serves free meals for holiday

    by Shannon Ballard on Nov 26, 16:00

    You don’t usually find a full kitchen at a gas station, but a former take-out counter in Mountain View serves a different purpose once a year. On Thanksgiving, it serves the community. In Sook Baik owns the neighbor Shell station. Like many who have found their way to Alaska, she’s an immigrant. She moved from Korea with close […]

  • News

    Soldotna man killed in house fire Thanksgiving morning, wife survives

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 26, 15:37

    A Soldotna man was killed in a residential fire Thursday morning after waking his wife and alerting her to the danger. Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna received a 911 call reporting a fire on Mackey Lake Road at 7:14 a.m., according to an online dispatch. One of the residents of the home, 90-year-old John Kelsch, […]

  • Lifestyle

    Tips for safe online shopping in the age of hackers

    by Amy Kraft / CBS News on Nov 26, 15:35

    Nearly 135 million Americans will be shopping on Thanksgiving weekend according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Although Black Fridayand Cyber Monday are perfect times to buy gifts for the upcoming holidays, they are also the perfect time for hackers to steal customers’ credit card and personal data. “Security has now become a board […]

  • News

    Meals on Wheels delivers Thanksgiving dinner for Anchorage seniors

    by Heather Hintze on Nov 26, 15:33

    Long before the sun came up Thanksgiving morning, volunteers were hard at work at the Salvation Army’s McKinnel House. There was an assembly line of people scooping mashed potatoes and piling on the turkey for more than 300 dinners for the Meals on Wheels program to make sure no senior citizens go hungry this holiday. […]

  • News

    Hundreds turn out for Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 26, 15:04

    This year’s Skinny Raven Turkey Trot in downtown Anchorage was host to more than 2,100 runners, making it the largest Turkey Trot to date. Some of the runners turned out in full costume, while others dressed for the chilly morning weather. First time “Turkey trotters” Michael and Milly Sullivan arrived decked out in turkey hats […]

  • Lifestyle

    Tests zero in on source of E. coli in Costco chicken salad

    by Associated Press on Nov 26, 15:02

    Testing has pointed toward a vegetable mix from a California food wholesaler as the source of E. coli in Costco chicken salad that has been linked to an outbreak that has sickened 19 people in seven states, a Costco official said Wednesday. Craig Wilson, Costco vice president of food safety and quality assurance, said he was told […]