Todd Palin Sets Off on Snowmobile Race
02/08/2009 AT 06:00 PM EST
His wife, Gov. Sarah Palin, served as official starter for the 26th running of the 1,971-mile, six-day event.
"Todd has been training a couple of hundred miles a day to get ready," says Todd's racing partner, Scott Davis, a seven-time winner of the Iron Dog. "We're ready."
They will vie against 34 pro class two-man teams competing for $150,000 in prize money. They reach speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h., riding over frozen tundra in sub zero temperatures.
The course stretches from Big Lake, west to Nome, and back east to Fairbanks, where Gov. Palin will wave the winners across the finish line with a victory flag. Racers spend about 40 hours on the snowmobiles and stop three times along the route.
Todd's entry has attracted international attention, drawing media from Europe and the Lower 48, such as Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Win or lose, Todd, 44, will return to life as a granddad to daughter Bristol's infant son, Tripp. "He loves it," Davis says of his partner. "He's a typical grandparent."