Four mushers will race from Nome to Council and back over the weekend, splitting a nearly $3,000 purse in this year’s running of the Nome Council 200.
The local mushers running the race—with a maximum team of 12 dogs—include Tom Jamgochian, fresh from three races in the interior this season, including the Copper Basin 300, as well as Stephanie Johnson and Deanna Hacker. Also running the race is KNOM Chief Engineer Rolland Trowbridge, who ran the Kuskokwim 300 earlier this year and withdrew just shy of the halfway point during the Yukon Quest.
The race begins with a mass start at the city snow dump Saturday, March 28 at 10 a.m., not far from the Public Safety Building on Greg Krushek Ave. GPS tracking, though not active as of Friday afternoon, is set to be available online once the race is underway.
The race follows the Iditarod trail until the river seven miles out of White Mountain, where mushers will head north on an overland trail to Council. The checkpoint is Garrett Glodeck’s camp, several miles outside and downriver of Council itself. After a mandatory six-hour layover teams will retrace the same trail to return to Nome.
The trail features the infamous Solomon blowhole, and the challenging Topcock Hills, but organizers say the river, creeks, and sloughs are in “good shape” and mushers won’t likely face any wet overflow or open water. Three volunteers will travel the trail on snowmachine to act as race officials on the way to Council and back.
The mushers’ sleds will be packed for the round-trip. There are no dog drops, so mushers will have to carry any dogs that can’t run. No food drops means they’ll have to carry all the food they’ll need along the way as well, though race organizers say there will be fuel for the mushers’ cookfires and straw for the dogs at the Council halfway.
Fuel, straw, and other race logistics are possible through the race’s sponsors, including Bering Straits Native Corporation, the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, ProWest Contractors, Crowley, Nome-Gold, and City of Nome.
Though the race has been approved as an Iditarod qualifier, organizers say they have not been able to secure a veterinarian. Unless one can be secured by the start, the race won’t count as a qualifier.
With the 10 a.m. start Saturday, a roughly 10-hour run to Council, the six-hour layover, and a 10-hour return, race officials estimate a winner could arrive in Nome by mid-afternoon Sunday.