MCGRATH, Alaska (KTUU) - The small communities along the Iron Dog trail help make the race uniquely Alaskan.
McGrath, for example, is a small town with plenty of pride for its homegrown racers, and there's nothing like a home field advantage - as is the case for Team 45, which includes Barney Anselment and Thomas Baumgartner; Team 42, made up of Amos Cruise and Jarvis Miller; and Dietrich Nikolai and Nicholas Reader, of Team 25, all of whom arrived home when they got to trail mile 362.
McGrath, however, has also played a big role in Iron Dog history. It was where the first race started back in 1984, and is now a popular place for teams to take their first layover.
Team 42’s Amos Cruise is one of three riders from Mcgrath competing in Iron Dog 36.
“Good to be home, good to be still rolling, sleds are clean, feels good," Cruise said.
But "home" isn't just a feeling for these guys. Along with long with the many reminders of the past, Cruise, Baumgartner and Nikolai, who are from McGrath, get all the hometown perks, too.
“They had prime rib, turkey, the whole works," Cruise said, describing the meal he had Sunday night in McGrath. "Green bean casserole, fried bread..."
However, whether it's food or family, these teams certainly aren't running low on support. Neither is their appreciation for a chance to connect, celebrate, and represent a place that is far beyond being "just a checkpoint" on the Iron Dog trial.
“It’s awesome riding with all my buddies I grew up with," Cruise continued. "Riding with them, watching them. Ride of a lifetime."
Learn more about the Iron Dog riders competing in this year's race by heading here, to the Iron Dog Pro Class roster webpage.
Channel 2's Beth Verge contributed to this report. See the video by Channel 2 Sports Director Patrick Enslow and photojournalist AJ Lucero tonight on the Late Edition.