Melted dream: Simpson's snowmobile race hopes dashed

Russ Simpson, the Nelson County man who vowed to race a snowmobile across the icy wilds of Alaska in search of adventure for himself and money for charity, has returned from more than two weeks in the 49th state with more questions than snow in his teeth.

"I'm not quite sure what happened up there," says Simpson, who'd planned on making a 1,100-mile journey in the Iron Dog race across the Alaskan wilderness. The subject of a recent Hook profile, he returned to Virginia in late February after race officials, having told him he had insufficient equipment, then proceeded to transfer him among teams where the roadside apple merchant-turned-racer says he just didn't feel welcome.

Race organizers ended up refunding his entry fee, but the travel cost of a 16-day journey to Alaska is something Simpson will have to absorb. Along with some positives to temper his disappointment.

"I can't look back on this and say it was a nightmare," says the middle-aged Simpson, reveling in the newfound health that he got from near-daily bicycle training atop the Blue Ridge and the over $5,000 he raised for a UVA team fighting melanoma.

"I'm definitely 100 percent glad I made the effort," says Simpson, who hasn't yet decided whether to try again next year.

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