Weather scratches Willow 300 Sled Dog Race for 2019
The Willow 300 Sled Dog Race will not be held this year due to poor trail conditions amid warm weather, the latest of this season’s Alaska sporting events to see cancellations or route changes.
In a Facebook post at midday Tuesday, organizers of the race — set to be held Thursday through Sunday — blamed the region’s recent warm and rainy conditions for the last-minute decision.
“Our trail crew and Race Marshall / Race Organizer have made a valiant effort to try to prevent such, but in the interest of safety to the dogs and mushers, we have to err on the side of caution with this most recent rain,” race officials wrote. “It's been a close call for over a week, it seemed all went well just Monday, but as Alaskans know, our weather often determines when we go and when we stay.”
The Willow 300 is at least the third sled dog race affected by this month’s weather, after the Knik 100 and 200 races were also canceled and the Yukon Quest modified its route last week. The Iron Dog snowmachine race to Nome and Fairbanks has canceled its planned Anchorage ceremonial start this year, and will start from Deshka Landing rather than Big Lake due to concerns about the frozen lake's stability.
Anyone who paid entry fees for the Willow 300 will have them refunded, minus membership dues for the Willow Dog Mushers Association which will carry over into 2020. Race organizers are already focusing on future plans.
“We lost 2019, but we now focus on 2020, because mushers never stop, ‘we never let go,’" race officials wrote.
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