ANCHORAGE - Warm winter weather has claimed this year's Tustumena 200 sled dog race.
Organizers decided this week to cancel the Kenai Peninsula event, scheduled for the weekend, because most of the trail was only a few inches of ice. The race starts in Kasilof and runs to the Caribou Hills and back.
"It's not just the open water in the creeks, it's the twigs sticking up in the trail. And rain is in the forecast this week," said Tustumena 200 racing association president Nancy Kitchen. "In the interest of the dogs' safety, and the mushers, we're not going to run."
The cancellation disappointed 37 mushers who had signed up to run. Four of those entered needed to complete a 200-mile race to qualify for this year's Iditarod.
Those four racers plan to head north this weekend and race instead in the Knik 200, where snow conditions are thin but adequate, according to organizers. The Knik 200 was scheduled for early January, but was postponed due to lack of snow in the Mat-Su valleys.
"We've heard from virtually everybody who was signed up to run that race," said Knik organizer Bruce Braden.