Somebody got snowed.
That free and now famous Alaska Railroad snow shipped from Fairbanks to Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race only to go unused? There’s a back story.
You know the snow, right? The snow for which the Alaska Railroad got an avalanche of free publicity.
“The snow must go on…Alaska Railroad bails out Iditarod” headlined the Christian Science Monitor website in a story complete with video of the ever helpful railroad.
“Train full of snow arrives in Alaska for Iditarod sled dog race” reported FoxNews.com with the attached Associated Press story chirping “TRAIN TO THE RESCUE.”
“Iditarod Sled Dog Race Lacks Snow, So Alaska Ships Some In” heralded the New York Times with its own shot-out to the Alaska Railroad in the story below.
“Doggone weather: Trail full of snow arrives to aid Iditarod” the Washington Post proclaimed above the seemingly everywhere AP photo of a front-end loader dipping snow out of an “Alaska Railroad” box car.
This free snow went global on Paris Match, the Daily Mail in England, The Australian, Sports Illustrated, News Max, the blog of the American Kennel Club, Slate, and the website of just about every U.S. subscriber to the AP.
This is also the free snow for which the Alaska Railroad wanted $22,000 a few weeks earlier when the Iron Dog snowmachine race, another Iditarod Trail event, asked for help covering the bare streets of Anchorage. Unfortunately for the Iron Dog, the world’s longest and toughest snowmobile race, it lacks the cachet of the Iditarod dog race.
And obviously, someone at the railroad was smart enough to recognize that. The railroad wouldn’t have gotten much in the way of free advertising out of the Iron Dog.
The Iditarod? That’s a different matter. The railroad got way more than $22,000 worth of attention out of hauling the snow to bail out “The Last Great Race” even if the effort turned out be sort of a made-for-TV, unreality show.
Doesn’t matter. The railroad got its name out there almost everywhere and brought to the business a ton of goodwill.
“Iditarod opening ceremony saved by shipment of snow,” CNN headlined before word leaked out that the railroad simply shipped 300 cubic yards of Fairbanks snow south to melt in Anchorage.
OK, the PETA crowd, which still hates the Iditarod, might refuse to take the train, but most of world is today thinking of the good folks at the railroad who saved the Iditarod.
So who deserves credit for the ARR PR bonanza?
“I have no idea,” railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan said Wednesday morning. He said he wasn’t involved in the decision.
He did admit that the cost for the haul seven box-car loads of material from Fairbanks to Anchorage would be in the neighborhood of $22,000 before quickly adding that “I’m not in the sales department.”
He did promise to get back with word on who decided to make the snow donation to Iditarod. Consider this a developing story.