(See “race” standings here.)
The Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot has begun! No, you didn’t have the date wrong on your calendar. This year’s race will be a “virtual” race due to the COVID-19 situation.
The scheduled race was cancelled because of social distancing restrictions. But Race Director Bad Bob Baker has been grooming the Chena River course up to where it meets the Birch Hill trails. And, of course, the NSCF grooming crew has been keeping the Birch Hill trails in outstanding condition. So, the course is ready! Get out there and ski!
How long do you have to do it? Well, Bob was heading out earlier today (Wednesday, March 18) to groom the Chena River. He plans to groom early on both Saturday and Sunday (March 21 and 22). Grooming after this weekend all depends upon Mother Nature. Once Bob deems the river to be ungroomable, then the Denali State Bank Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot will be over. Bob, who has 33 years of experience grooming the Chena River, warns that the course on the Chena River may NOT be safe if you wait until Saturday, March 28, so get out there as soon as you can!
(Update March 20: The Chena River deteriorated quickly, so now we’re holding the “virtual” race entirely up at Birch Hill. So, make up your own course of 20, 40 or 50 kilometers. Or do something go longer or shorter or something in between. Heck, you an even break down your race into different legs on different days! Just follow the rules below and let us know what you did and how you did it! The most important things are to be flexible, understanding, enthusiastic, and skiing!)
How it works.
- Make sure to carry government identification whenever you go on Fort Wainwright property, this includes where the Sonot trail goes through it. (Fort officials have approved the “virtual” Sonot!)
- Ski one or more of the three courses (20km, 40km, or 50km).
- Everything is legal in this year’s virtual Sonot Kkaazoot. Any course goes as long as it’s recorded and reported before Bad Bob ends the competition. The idea is to safely get out and work off some anxiety and stress that we’re all feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re aiming for the most km skied by this community during this year’s virtual Sonot Kkaazoot.
- Send us proof! (send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact@sonotkkaazoot)
- If you have a GPS device, send a screen shot or photo from your display that shows the route, date, and your time on the course.
- If you are going old school, jot down the date, your time on the course, and a description of where you skied.
- Add a post to our NSCF Facebook page Event.
Now which way do I go?
The course will not be marked. Sonot veterans will probably know the way. But for those who weren’t paying attention (because, heck, the course was marked), we have basic descriptions of the three courses on the Sonot Kkaazoot website. We also have a rudimentary map you can download here. And we have nifty maps of the Birch Hill trails here.
If you are new to the race, the 20k is pretty straightforward. Start at the Cushman Street Bridge in Fairbanks. Head up the Chena River and after about 10k follow the trail into the woods. Just before the road crossing, turn left and loop back around to the river and then back to town. The 40k and 50k races are a bit trickier, especially with the addition of trails over the years (South Tower, Sunnyside, etc.). Either try your best from the descriptions and map or find someone who has a GPS track of it.
Going the extra miles
If you want an even bigger challenge, we’ve created something we call the “Virtual White Mountains 100” in honor of our friends who had to cancel the White Mountains 100. Ours is a bit easier at 127 kilometers (about 79 miles) instead of 100 miles, but we aren’t going to stop you from adding those miles by doing some trails twice. Here’s how you do our VWM100: ski all Sonot courses + all classical-only trails + Sunny/Cliffside. Easy peasy! (Sorry fatbikers, snowrunners, unicyclists, and kicksledders, only skiers on the Birch Hill trails.)
The most important thing is to just get outside during these unsettling times and get some outdoor exercise! So, if you go out and ski and you get all mixed up on the trails, let us know! We’ll be happy to celebrate that, too! We might even create a new category for most creative lost skier!
No, of course not. Given the current restrictions, the awards ceremony for the Denali State Bank Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot will not be held. But, please, raise a glass and toast everyone willing to get outside and ski at least some portion of the course!