Cancelled Race Disappoints Rookie Musher
Iditarod qualifier not happening due to weather
BIG LAKE - “Come here Yama, come here baby,” said Kristin Bacon, as she rubbed and kissed one of her 21 dogs.
Yama was born last spring in Bacon’s first litter of huskies. Like Bacon, this is his first winter hitting Alaska’s trails.
“This is my very first year of racing,” said Bacon. “I did my first two races ever in the last couple of weeks.”
Bacon, who lives with her dogs at Bacon’s Acres dog kennel in Big Lake, was preparing to compete in Saturday’s Knik 200 Joe Redington Sr. Memorial Sled Race, which was cancelled this week.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Bacon. “And the practice, even more so. I was just really excited to get out there on the trails with the dogs.”
She said she wants to practice camping with her team, while race officials can keep an eye on them to make sure they stay safe.
The late snowfall and recent warm weather is being blamed for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest qualifying race being canceled.
“Last Saturday night we had a mushers’ meeting,” said Knik 200 race manager Robert Sexton. “We went out and looked at Knik Lake and everything looked great. Sunday, it just warmed up overnight and it was like a standing lake out there. Then the trail reports we were getting from the mushers, who are training consistently on them, said it just wasn’t looking good. It was almost down to dirt in some areas.”
Sexton said it was a tough decision, but it was in the best interest for the mushers and dogs.
“It’s hard for these mushers,” said Sexton. “They are working really hard and getting prepared and then have conditions like this come about. I mean it’s just really disheartening for us.”
For rookies like Bacon, another cancelled race means one thing.
“It definitely means I won't be running in the Iditarod next year,” said Bacon, with a stern look on her face.
The season’s weather has forced her to train her team on her four-wheeler, according to the rookie musher.
“The dogs, its hard, because you are training on the roads. It’s hard on their paws, and just trying to keep them safe and their paws not ripped up,” said Bacon. “As a new person that's a lot to figure out.”
But she said she is not giving up and neither are her dogs, who barked and played behind her.
Though her dream may be deferred, she’s not giving up her hope of one day crossing the finish line of the Last Great Race.