NOME, Alaska — On Saturday, 66 competitors will take off down the trail for the 2016 Nome-Golovin. It’s the 50th anniversary of the 200-mile snowmachine race.
When the Nome-Golovin began in 1966, the route actually took racers from Nome to Teller and allowed them an overnight rest.
“In 1972, when the machines got bigger and faster, they changed the course from Nome to Golovin and back,” said Kevin Bahnke, the race’s organizer.
Now, the race is all-out sprint. Most competitors take just three or four hours on the course.
“The record was set by Calvin Schaeffer in 2000: One hour and 57 minutes,” said Bahnke. “That’s very fast.”
So fast that no one has ever come within fifteen minutes of the record. While Bahnke expects a quick race this year, he said a handful of rough, snowless spots on the trail should make it difficult for anyone to challenge Schaeffer’s record-setting run.
Still, Bahnke said the level of competition will be high. He had a chance to check out the field at race registration on Thursday.
Colton West of Nome said he’s racing a 570 Fan Cooled.
“It’s pretty cool because I got my dad in the big class, I got my brother in the big class, and my fiancé, Maggie, is in the women’s class,” he said. “So there’s a bunch of us racing. It’s a family feud.”
Katie Hannon of Koyuk said the 2016 Nome-Golovin will be her first race ever.
“I’ve always wanted to, and I just never really had the chance,” she said. “This year I have the chance, and I’m going to do it.”
And Steven Williams of Noorvik said he hopes to have a strong race despite a back-of-the-pack start.
“I got a sorry bib number — 77, way in the back. I’m going to be working on all the rough parts and all the chop that everyone leaves,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice workout.”
Racers are registered in one of five classes. Bahnke said 26 competitors have signed up for the 800-level Class, which will leave the starting line first. Behind the big machines, 29 racers are competing in the 600-level Class, nine in the Fan Cooled Class, six in the Women’s Class, and two in the Junior Class.
They’re racing for an $11,000 prize, split between the first-place finishers. The 2016 Nome-Golovin snowmachine race starts Saturday at noon on Nome’s East Beach.