Two Valley sled dog races canceled, another potentially in jeopardy

Talkeetna musher Anja Radano at the starting line of the 2018 Knik 200. (Photo by Phillip Manning – KTNA)

A pair of sled dog races has been canceled, and another may be in jeopardy due to poor trail conditions in the Mat-Su Valley.

On Wednesday evening, officials for the Knik 200 and Knik 100 announced that this year’s races, which had already been postponed once, will not take place. The races typically start on Knik Lake and follow trails in the Valley.

Last year’s race start had to be moved to Willow due to poor ice conditions on Knik Lake. This year, officials say the lake ice is in better shape, but other areas of the trail are potentially dangerous. Stretches of the Yentna River are of particular concern. An alternative route was also deemed unsafe as temperatures climbed into the forties headed into the weekend.

Going forward, Knik 200 officials plan to make changes. They say the race will no longer be postponed.

If conditions are not safe on the traditional first weekend of January, then the race will be canceled. There will also be a new route going forward, which is intended to be less vulnerable to warm winter weather. The Knik Race Committee says that safety is and will continue to be the first priority.

The Willow 300, scheduled to start on January 31st, could also be in jeopardy. On Friday, the race’s Facebook page advised mushers to check back on Monday to see whether the race would go on. The post notes that, as of Friday morning, conditions were warm and rainy.

Both the Knik 200 and the Willow 300 is a qualifier race for would-be Iditarod rookies.