Chad Moore, left, and Travis Temple, right, prepare for the 2022 Iron Dog snow machine race. (Photo provided by Travis Temple)

Chad Moore, left, and Travis Temple, right, prepare for the 2022 Iron Dog snow machine race. (Photo provided by Travis Temple)

Area riders ready for Iron Dog

Travis Temple, of Sterling, is back after two years for the start of one of the world’s toughest snowmachine competitions.

The Iron Dog Pro Class begins Saturday — a race that covers over 2,600 miles of some of the toughest Alaska terrain.

Temple said Thursday that he and his partner, Chad Moore, are a mixed bag of emotions right now.

“Getting ready to get on a snowmachine for 2,600 miles, there’s a lot of nerves and excitement and there’s a lot of obstacles, especially with the weather right now,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of water and (we’re) thinking about that all the time.”

The duo is getting “mentally grounded” leading up to the race, Temple said.

The Soldotna native has entered the race before.

In his debut ride in 2020, Temple crashed going 80 mph and separated his sternum. He actually rode after the crash, but decided to drop out when his pain worsened and his partner’s sled began to malfunction.

Now, after his recovery, he’s been focusing on “getting the Soldotna-Kenai community back into cross-country racing.”

Soldotna’s Scott Davis won the Iron Dog title seven times, including the 1985 race — the second annual. Dusty VanMeter of Kasilof has also taken home five championships, and Mark Carr also brought Soldotna four titles.

In 2017, Cory Davis, Scott’s son, won his own title. VanMeter finished second that year.

“Once they kind of passed the buck nobody else was really racing down in Kenai or Soldotna,” Temple said.

The duo is the only team, of 28, with both racers from the Kenai Peninsula. However, Soldotna is producing two more riders with out-of-area teammates this year.

Tad Couvalt will be racing alongside Willow’s Jesse Bradley, and Bradley Kishbaugh will ride with Kelly Sommer of Fairbanks.

Moore, who is a first-time Iron Dog rider this year, said he’s trying to take the race step by step.

“I feel pretty good, just trying to stay calm and collected, take it one checkpoint at a time and don’t get wrapped up in the rain,” Moore said.

He noted the weather might not be in the racers’ favor, but that he’s staying focused on riding through the adversity.

“We’re both just ready to get out on the trail and see what it’s got to offer,” Moore said.

Riders take off in Wasilla on Saturday. The course will lead them over the Alaska Range to the Yukon River to Nome then Kotzebue, before finishing in Big Lake.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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