Three mid-distance races in South Central Alaska have been cancelled this year due to lack of snow and open water. The Northern Lights 300 sled dog race starts today in Willow, and organizers have made some changes to the route to make sure the race happens. KTNA’s Lorien Nettleton has more:
The Northern Lights 300 Sled Dog race is gearing up for its second year. The race is a qualifier for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, and has drawn a number of rookie mushers who are looking to get some experience on the trail. Race Manager Sue Allen says a big draw to the race is the chance for rookies to get input from veteran mushers.
The trail uses the first three checkpoints of the Iditarod, and is almost entirely on remote trails between its start at Deshka Landing near Willow, out through Skwentna to a turn-around at Finger Lake, and back to finish at Martin Buser’s Happy Trails Kennels in Willow.
The race has had to make some adjustments to its route due to variable snow conditions caused by a warm winter with low snowfall. Allen says the challenges of setting up a remote mid-distance race is dependent on volunteers.
With temperatures expected to drop below zero over the weekend, and a new weather system that brought in new snow, the race could be facing new challenges by the minute. But Allen says the volunteers are committed to making the race happen.
The Northern Lights 300 Sled Dog race began today at 10 am.