Even though the 2018 Iditarod is still more than a month away, Nome mushers are already competing in their own sled dog races, just outside of town.
Over the weekend, four local teams finished 8-mile and 20-mile races, both hosted by the Nome Kennel Club. According to race marshal Neil Strandberg, Cynthia Barrand was the lone musher to race the 8-mile trail on Saturday, which followed the Gold Hill loop. Barrand’s team featured younger dogs from fellow musher Stephanie Masters-Johnson’s kennel.
Johnson ran the 20-mile trail along with Diana Haecker and Nils Hahn. All three teams started near the City snow dump at noon on Saturday with ten dogs on the towline.
The mushers left in two minute intervals, with Haecker going first, followed by Hahn and Johnson, consecutively. None of the teams passed other competitors on the route around Gold Hill Loop and the Golf Ball loop, east of the Beam Road, so everyone finished the way they started.
Haecker crossed the finish line first in one hour and 38 minutes, while Hahn finished just about two minutes behind her. Johnson rounded out the race with a time of one hour and 47 minutes. All the dogs were rewarded with snacks at the finish line.
Vice President of the Nome Kennel Club’s Board of Directors, Neil Strandberg, says there will be a 30-mile race coming up on February 10th. More information about the event will be sent out via email in the coming week.
[Footnote: the Nome Kennel Club says: “Thanks to NKC’s David Panepinto for timekeeping and Dawn Ubelaker for trail assistance. Thanks to Diana and Nils for staking the trail in the days before the race.”]
Image at top: file photo: An aerial view of the greater Nome area. Photo: Ben Matheson, KNOM.