Due to the lack of snow on the Kenai Peninsula, the 2015 Tustumena 200 sled dog race has been postponed. Originally scheduled for Feb. 7, the race will now take place on Feb. 21, pending more snowfall.
The 200-mile sled dog race has been held since 1984 and the race’s trails extend through the Caribou Hills and other parts of the Kenai Peninsula. Last year, the race was canceled due to similar weather constraints.
Tami Murray, race director of the T200, said that while some people are disappointed, others are relieved.
“The mushers are very pleased that we’re not canceling,” Murray said. “We’re giving it a chance. They’re fine with the date we’ve chosen.”
Murray said that the race has been postponed several times in its history. Normally when a race is postponed, race organizers try to push it back a week, but this year Iditarod drop bag preparation would conflict with a one-week delay.
“It takes about a week to put the trail in, so we need a week,” Murray said. “It gives mushers time to plan. A lot of them come from all over the state.”
The race can’t be held later than Feb. 21, because many teams need time to rest and prepare for the Iditarod on March 7.
Murray said that because of the postponement, she expects some teams to drop out of the race.
“I can see (teams not participating),” Murray said. “A lot of these teams are running in other races.”
Of the 50 registered teams, Murray said that about six are from the Kenai Peninsula.
Murray said there is a waiting list of several teams just in case some teams back out.
While she isn’t too concerned about mushers dropping out, Murray said she does worry about having enough volunteers. She said that having 50 volunteers would be great.
As for the amount of snow needed to have a successful race, Murray said that three feet of snow would be optimal, but a race could work with between one and two feet.
Despite the lack of snow in recent years, Murray doesn’t anticipate moving the race from the Kenai Peninsula in the future.
“If we did (move the race), it wouldn’t be the T200,” Murray said. “It’s the only place to do it on the Kenai Peninsula that would be a challenging race.”
Teams already registered for this year’s race can get a full refund or participate on the later race date.