Roster set, trails “beautiful” for Willow 300

Crews work to prepare the trail for this weekend’s Willow 300. Photo courtesy of Willow 300 Sled Dog Race

The starting roster for the second-annual Willow 300 is now official. According to a social media post made by race officials on Tuesday, thirty-eight teams will set off from Willow Lake on Thursday and head for the finish line at Sheep Creek Lodge.

Fourteen mushers are using the race as an Iditarod qualifier this year. There are also plenty of familiar names, including Dee Dee Jonrowe, Scott Janssen, and Ray Redington Jr.

Many eyes will be on Nicolas Petit during the Willow 300. Petit comes into this weekend having won three mid-distance races already in the 2018 season. He is also the defending winner of the Willow 300.

One way in which the Willow race differs from many others is that it uses a mass-start. Instead of teams lining up and leaving the starting line one at a time, all thirty-eight will be allowed to go when the flag drops. That can present potential logistical issues, but race officials say the starting field should have plenty of room. While there is some bottlenecking shortly after the start, the trail soon reaches swampland and opens up again to allow passing.

The start of the Willow 300 is this Thursday at 1:00 pm from Willow Lake. KTNA will be there to provide coverage of the start.

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