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B'ville residents volunteer in Alaskan race

The world's longest, toughest, cross-country snowmobile race was held in Alaska Feb. 8 to 14.

The 25th annual Tesoro Iron Dog race covered 1,971 miles from Wasilla to Fairbanks. Pro Class racers, consisting of a two-person team on two snowmobiles, started from Big Lake and traveled north along the Iditarod trail to Nome and then south to Fairbanks.

The seven-day trip of 39 team Pro Class racers included veteran racer Todd Palin of Wasilla and his teammate Scott Davis of Soldotna. They drove Arctic Cat F6 600's. Both veteran and rookie team racers competed in the sub-zero cold, deep snow and blinding visibility for cash prizes with $25,000 minimum (up to $100,000) going to the first place winner. Total purse was $150,050 with more than 37 sponsors awarding prizes of varying values.

{Q}Two senior Baldwinsville residents booked reservations to watch the race and volunteer their services{Q}, if needed. John Hudson, retired owner of Hudson & Mowin service station in Baldwinsville and Paul Kulba, retired chef of Raphael's restaurant in Lakeland, are experienced snowmobilers who ride the NY trails of CNY, the Tugg Hill plateau and elsewhere. This trip was well planned without the need of a travel agent or snowmobile guide. These men chartered their own expedition.

"It was better than planned," Kulba said. "We could not have planned it any better."

Their first jubilation occurred during the mid-air flight to Alaska. While talking with passengers on the Iron Dog race, a stranger overheard their discussion and on approach, both recognized him as Jim Tallon, veteran racer. The stewardess temporarily allowed Tallon to block the aisle while he kneeled in conversation next to Hudson and Kulba, but reluctantly made him return to his seat. A half-hour later, a note passed back from Tallon invited them to contact him in Wasilla.

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