The long-running Tustumena 200 sled dog race has been cancelled for 2020, according to the T200 Sled Dog Race Association Board of Directors.
In a Facebook post Friday afternoon, the board of directors said it has cancelled the 2020 race but with hopes of returning in 2021.
T200 race director Tami Murray said she is stepping down from her position, noting that the board had been discussing the future of the race for several months, but without a permanent collection of organizers that will handle fundraising efforts, the decision was made to put the race on a one-year hiatus.
“The need for getting new blood involved was a big part of it,” Murray said. “A lot of board members have a lot of obligations, and there’s not enough people to do the fundraising and work to put the race on. So we decided to take a year off, reach out and get new blood involved.”
The closure of Freddie’s Roadhouse, a popular winter hangout in the Caribou Hills for snowmachine drag races, also played a role in this winter’s T200 demise. Freddie’s Roadhouse served as the start and finish point of the race in 2019 after poor snow conditions on the trail forced the relocation from the traditional Kasilof hub.
Murray said that Freddie’s has left the option on the table of reopening for that one weekend to host the race as its start and finish location, but said the closure of Freddie’s this spring wasn’t the final nail in the coffin.
Still, it is looking like the T200 will not run in 2020.
“Having Freddie’s was a big piece of our race,” Murray said. “We could do things without them, but with all the other struggles, we just decided the timing is good.”
The 200-mile sled dog race traces its beginnings to 1983, when Iditarod champion Dean Osmar helped found the event as a way for mushers to log required miles in preparation for the Iditarod.
Since then, the race has been dealt a handful of cancellations due to poor weather and trail conditions, but the 2020 edition is one of the first that’s been cancelled for personnel reasons.
Last year, the 200-mile race purse totaled $25,000, which Murray said was another hurdle for organizers to deal with.
Murray said with the increase in unpredictable winters and the warm weather that has battered the race in recent years, the timing to call it off months in advance was preferred. With registration opening in October for interest mushers, and with only 20 teams signing up for the 200-mile race last year, the cancellation was best for all parties.
“We’ll regroup and hopefully put on a race in 2021,” she said.