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Story Last modified at 9:53 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chris Olds to defend 2010 Iron Dog title

Eagle River's Chris Olds, a 1991 graduate of Chugiak High School, will be among the favorites when 40 two-person teams head out across the ice of Big Lake on Feb. 20 for the Tesoro Iron Dog.

Olds will again be riding this year with partner Tyler Huntington of Galena. The two men won the 2,000-mile race across Alaska's outback last year.

The duo will be the 18th team out of the starting chute at the race, which gets underway with pre-race ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. and racing at 11 a.m.

In addition to defending their race title, Olds and Huntington are also teaming up with the Alaska Department of Public Safety to help prevent suicide in Alaska by spreading the word and talking about suicide prevention along the race route and handing out special flyers and cards printed with suicide hot line numbers.

Tanana resident and Iron Dog volunteer Cynthia Erickson recruited the champs to help the cause after several suicides in her Interior Alaska village, according to a press release issued by the state. Huntington is an Alaska Native who said he grew up with suicide as a constant source of despair in Galena.

"One suicide is too many and I grew up with a lot more than that in my village with my friends and family," Huntington said.

Teams are expected to arrive at the finish line in Fairbanks at around 1 p.m. on Feb. 26 after covering a course that runs from Big Lake to Nome and then on to the Golden Heart City.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.