• 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

  • Gang graffiti grows in east Anchorage, former APD officer weighs in on solutions

    by Eric Ruble on Mar 29, 9:23

    An east Anchorage neighborhood near Russian Jack Springs Park is plagued with gang-related graffiti. Spray-painted symbols and words related to the Crips, Bloods and other gangs line a number of fences near the intersection of Reka Drive and Bragaw Street. “Graffiti is the first sign that you’ve got an issue in your neighborhood,” said Scott […]

  • Weather

    Spring snow falls in Southcentral Alaska

    by Rachael Penton on Mar 29, 9:15

    A late season snowstorm has brought accumulating snow to Southcentral. Anchorage picked up 1.3 inches of snow on Tuesday — the first measurable precipitation since late-February. An additional 4.7 inches fell from midnight through 7 a.m., Wednesday at the National Weather Service office in Sand Lake. This brings the season total up to more than […]

  • Politics

    First lady helps present courage awards to 13 women

    by Associated Press on Mar 29, 8:46

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Melania Trump is helping present courage awards to 13 women from around the world. The first lady and top State Department official Thomas Shannon are presenting the awards in Washington. Mrs. Trump says the women are “true heroes” and “extraordinary examples” of finding the courage needed to help change the world. The […]

  • Weather

    Spring snow storm closes Anchorage schools

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 29, 6:45

    Last updated at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29 The Anchorage School District closed schools Wednesday because of poor road conditions, following an overnight snow storm. District spokesperson Heidi Embley said after school events were cancelled, as well. This is the first snow day of the current school year, she noted. “And probably (the) first […]

  • Lifestyle

    “Groundbreaking” technology restores movement in paralyzed man

    by Ashley Welch / CBS News on Mar 28, 20:42

    For the first time, a paralyzed man has regained functional arm movement and is able to feed himself using his own hand as a result of new technology that reconnects his brain with his muscles. Bill Kochevar, now 53, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a bicycle accident eight years ago that left him completely […]

  • Sports

    Dimond Lynx cap off magical season

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 20:37

    The Dimond High School Lynx had one of those years: nine seniors will ride off with a 4A state title. Head coach Brad Lauwers and three of those seniors stopped by KTVA on Tuesday to sit down with Dave Goldman to discuss the championship run. Follow KTVA 11 Sports on Facebook and Twitter. Did you […]

  • News

    House votes to block Obama-era online privacy rules

    by Associated Press on Mar 28, 20:25

    The House has voted to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration. It’s the first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers. The Federal Communications Commission rule was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet […]

  • News

    Some Juneau property values will increase, city officials say

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 19:24

    About 60 percent of homeowners in Juneau will see the value of their homes increase, according to city officials. The City and Borough of Juneau’s assessor office mailed out property value notices Tuesday, an annual requirement under state law. The city has more than 12,600 taxable properties across more than 20 geographic neighborhoods. Many residential neighborhoods have homes […]