The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Mushers ready for Copper Basin 300 this Saturday

Twenty-sixth year for one of the state's toughest sled dog races

 


One of Alaska's most challenging sled dog races is slated to begin in Glennallen this week.

No it's not the Iditarod, but mushers that are able to complete the challenge of the Copper Basin 300 can chalk up their race experience to qualify for the state's most famous challenge.

Organizers said Monday that 50 mushers are signed up for the challenge, with 11 more on a waitlist hoping a slot becomes available before the race begins Saturday morning.

A press release sent to media organizations Monday states that three of last year's top four finishers, Allen Moore, Nicolas Petit, and Ben Harper, are slated to make this year's run.

Locals from the Copper Basin ready to take on the challenge include Heidi Sutter from Chistochina and Dennis Kananowicz from Glennallen.

"Current trail conditions promise a fast track for the 2015 race. The course is well-packed, hard, with some rough patches from thin snow cover," organizers said Monday. "Warm winter temperatures have prevailed until the last couple days, delaying river freeze up. Recent temperatures to -25 below is solidifying some of the previously open water crossings and hardening trail sections glaciated by ground seepage. The current weather forecast calls for gradual warming toward race day."

The CB300 is noted for its remote trail segments, challenging snow conditions, extreme temperatures, and limited daylight hours.

The race starts officially begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, but there are plenty of kick off events Friday, and organizers say local businesses will have flyers and additional information available for spectators. This year's Race Central is at the American Legion Hall.

Prince William Sound Community College's Glennallen campus will host a Mushers Welcome Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend the event to welcome the mushers to the community.

As is often the case, the course and checkpoints are different this year from the 2014 race.

Mushers and dog teams will run the 310 mile course counterclockwise from Glennallen, starting in front of the KCAM radio station. There are four checkpoints throughout the race, with the finish line located at the Old Paths Baptist Church in Glennallen.

The press release said this year's checkpoints are in Chistochina (Red Eagle Lodge), Meier's Lake (Meier's Lake Lodge), Sourdough (Sourdough Lodge is closed), and Mendeltna Creek (Mendeltna Creek Lodge). The returning course to the Glennallen finish line is via Tolsona and Crosswind Lakes.

"This change was triggered by lodge closures at two of last year's checkpoints, and enhances safety margins for mushers and dogs during the four day event," organizers said.

The course offers numerous areas that are spectator friendly.

"There are many good roadside locations to watch the race along the Glenn Highway west of and through Glennallen, as well as the first ten miles of the Richardson Highway north of Glennallen and the first few miles of the Tok Cutoff," organizers said. "The checkpoints are also good locations to watch the mushers and dog teams."

After the race begins January 10, Crowley Petroleum will host a chili feed at Race Central from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

According to the press release, mushers generally arrive at the Chistochina checkpoint that afternoon and evening.

"Look for mushers to arrive at the Meier's Lake and Sourdough checkpoints on Sunday January 11, and at the Mendeltna Creek checkpoint on January 12," organizers said. "Race winners will reach the finish line at the Old Paths Baptist Church on January 12, which will host a potluck meal throughout the race finish until the last musher arrives."

The times are approximate and can change once the race is underway. Live coverage of the race is available on Glennallen's KCAM radio. The race website, CB300.com, will also be updated frequently for up-to-date tracking information, as will the group's Facebook page.

Map from CB300

The race course for the 2015 Copper Basin 300.

"The Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race is an all-volunteer race. Volunteers organize the race and stage race events, run race central, staff the race checkpoints, provide media coverage, complete all the preparation leading up to the race, and complete the cleanup and demobilization after the race," organizers said. "Race officials welcome new volunteers who are interested in getting involved."

This year's race officials include race manager Eric Lutz of Glennallen, and Greg Parvin returns as race marshal; Nina Hansen is also returning as the head veterinarian.

"This race would not be possible without sponsorship at all levels, and volunteers," organizers said.

Board members are: Richard Dennis(President), Jamey Kemp(Vice President), Deborah Crowe(Secretary/Treasurer), Jason Severs(Checkpoints), Mabel Wimmer(Volunteer Coordinator), and Meg Jensen(Media Coordinator).

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