The season could have kicked off with the Kuskokwim 300 or the Tustumena 200, but both of those races were postponed due to poor trail conditions. Unseasonably warm temperatures have plagued much of the southern regions of Alaska, leaving snowless trails and open river crossings. Fortunately, conditions cooperated in early January near the Denali Highway and Meiers Lake Alaska for the running of the Gin Gin 200. There was no shortage of cold for this race, with temps dipping down to -30F. The twins were pleased with this first race of the year, though, with Kristy taking 15th and Anna 17th of 37 entrants, each finishing in under 35 hours.
After the Gin Gin wrapped up, the twins had a unique opportunity to travel to Florida. It was a whirlwind adventure lasting only a couple of days in mid-January, with more time in airports than on beaches. But we got to see some cool sites and spend some time with a great group of local students, so worth the miles.
Upon our return to Alaska, we hit the training trail and got ready for the Northern Lights 300. Cancelled last year due to poor conditions, organizers and mushers were again nervous leading up to the race this year. But trail reports came back a go, and mushers hit the trail Friday, January 23. Just over 49 hours later, the twins pulled into the finish, Kristy in 1st and Anna close behind in 2nd of 31 teams.
Early February finally brought a second attempt at the Knik 200. The trail was hard and fast, and certainly not great by way of snow. But it was enough to allow the race to go on. Several mushers scratched from the initial field of 31, but the not only held their own but finished quite respectively in 7th (Kristy, after 22 hours, 26 minutes on the trail) and 10th (Anna, after 23 hours, 5 minutes).
Conditions don't bode well for the Tustumena 200 this year, which means most mushers, including the twins, now have their eyes on the 43rd running of the Iditarod.