Kim Bergeron of Dublin, NH, and Jean-Pierre (JP) Bernier of Hancock, NH, will compete in the Pro Class of the Iron Dog 2024 race in Alaska, starting on Feb. 17, 2024. A rare cast of New England snowmobile racers and the first-ever all NH team to run Alaska Iron Dog.
First-Ever All NH Team To Run Alaska Iron Dog
Bergeron, a New Hampshire Snowmobile Association Board of Director, and Bernier, a trails advocate, are officially entered as Team #15 in the longest, toughest snowmobile race in the world, covering over 2,500 miles of Alaskan backcountry.
They will navigate mountain passes, traverse the Yukon River, cross sections of the Bering Sea, and brave recorded temperatures below -57° Fahrenheit as they travel from Big Lake, AK to Nome, marking the halfway point, and then back to Big Lake.
History of NH Iron Dog Snowmobile Teams
Since its beginnings in 1984, only 14 snowmobile teams from eastern North America have entered the Iron Dog. Only four of those 14 eastern teams over a span of 39 years finished the race. For perspective, the Iron Dog 2023 Pro Class began with a field of 25 teams; 15 teams finished, making it a remarkable achievement for all racers, regardless of their origins.
“The riders who come out for the Iron Dog are the real deal,” says Bernier, “I’m grateful and proud to be on the course with them and to represent New England and my home state of New Hampshire.”
NH Iron Dog Race Team Experience
Bergeron and Bernier have experience in the Iron Dog Expedition Class, which ends at the halfway point in Nome — an 1,100-mile course. Both have completed the expedition class each year for the past three years, and Bergeron has crossed the expedition class finish line a total of six times.
“When JP approached me about moving up to Pro Class for the 2024 race, I knew if I were ever to make this move that he would be my teammate,” recalls Bergeron, “We push each other to be our best in all things: as riders, as business owners, and as fathers and husbands.”
Prepare for Rugged Terrain and Harsh Winter Conditions
The racecourse covers some of Alaska’s most remote and rugged terrain through some of the harshest winter conditions. Survival skills are essential. Fuel and oil are provided at designated checkpoints, all other logistics are the responsibility of the teams. Teams must provide all their own gear, tools, and safety equipment, and plan their own lodging and meals for the duration of the race.
“It’s a lot of preparation and investment,” says Bergeron, who now specializes in logistics and planning services for riders in the expedition class of the race, “Getting our sleds ready is just the beginning.
Figuring out where to stay at the end of each leg, making sure we have the parts and tools we need in the event of a mechanical issue, even something so simple as food is a challenge in this environment.”
Sponsorships and Support
NH Iron Dog Team Are Volunteers at Heart
Kim Bergeron volunteers at the local, state, and international levels. He served ten years as County Director of New Hampshire Snowmobile Association (NHSA) and serves currently as Business Director on the NHSA Board of Directors. He is Vice Chair of the Northeast Chapter of the International Snowmobile Council and a member of the following local clubs: Winchester Trail Riders, Merrimack Valley Trail Riders (MVTR), New England Trail Riders Association (NETRA), and New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association (NHOHVA).
Additionally, Bergeron supports trail riding in Trapper Creek and Petersville, AK, donates the use of snow machines for volunteers of the Iron Dog, and provides financial support for one of the check points of the race.
JP Bernier has served on the Hancock, NH Conservation Commission since 2017, working to protect local NH trails and trail access for riders, and is a member of the Washington Snow Riders in New Hampshire, the Merrimack Valley Trail Riders (MVTR), New England Trail Riders Association (NETRA), and New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association (NHOHVA).