ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Iron Dog announced a purse of $100,000 for the 2019 race at its headquarters in South Anchorage Tuesday afternoon.
The division of the prize money hasn't yet been determined, but race executive director John Woodbury said that will be determined soon. He says securing sponsorships helped get the money needed to provide a purse, even though racers had said they'd be willing to race for no money.
Woodbury says the race has secured $192,000 worth of prizes and cash, including the usual prizes like the halfway prize, and including prizes like Beaver hats and other items.
Typically, a purse announcement isn’t a huge deal, but given recent circumstances surrounding the 2019 Iron Dog, this announcement should give race fans hope.
It all started in August when Lee Butterfield, member of the Iron Dog board of directors, posted that the 2019 race was in jeopardy via the race's official page.
“The coffers are dry to the point where we can neither pursue new leadership through pay, nor maintain basic staffing levels,” wrote Butterfield via the Iron Dog Facebook page.
In August, the board of directors held a closed-door meeting and voted to put on a 2019 race. Immediately after the decision was made board members cautioned against expecting a similar race to what fans, sponsors and competitors were accustomed to in the past.
In October, Iron Dog named John Woodbury as its new executive director.
Even before the race got into dire straits in August of 2018, problems began to arise three years earlier when it lost its title sponsor, The National Guard. Shortly after, longtime executive director Kevin Kastner left the organization in July 2017. His replacement, Susan Duck, was with the race for a short period of time before leaving shortly before the 2018 race began.
Iron Dog begins February 15 with the Trail Class race at Big Lake, followed by the Pro Class race beginning at Deshka Landing on February 17.
The Pro Class race typically starts at Big Lake, but was relocated to Deshka Landing in January due to lingering safety concerns after the Nov. 30 earthquake.