Nome Kennel Club is ready for mushing season
The world’s oldest kennel club for sled dogs and working dogs, the Nome Kennel Club, is poised for action on the snow. Events planned for the spring 2019 season include four races and the Nome-Council 200 race, which is scheduled to start March 23.
The club was formed in 1907 for the purpose of organizing the All Alaska Sweepstakes race from Nome to Candle and back in 1908. Now, in 2019, it still promotes and perpetuates the art and lifestyle of training, running and keeping sled dogs, and keeping a trail system in place for dog mushers and other winter sports participants to use. NKC also maintains the Topkok Shelter cabin on the Iditarod Trail and a shelter cabin at Bangor Creek.
“We have events planned for the spring 2019 mushing season,” said NKC President Neil Strandberg. “The race schedule is subject to weather.” Five sled dog races are planned for the 2019 season and start at the City of Nome’s snow facility off Greg Kruschek Ave. The first event was scheduled for last week but had to be cancelled due to weather. The make-up race is scheduled for the upcoming weekend. The race format will be split into two divisions: a shorter 8-mile for mushers with an eight dog team and a 15-mile race for a team limit of ten dogs. The NKC plans to hold 20-mile race, a camp out race and a 30 to 40-mile race in February and March.
The Nome – Council 200-mile race is the culmination of the season. It is scheduled for the week after the Iditarod banquet and NKC hopes there will be local racers as well as some Iditarod teams who stay in town to do the race. The race is a qualifying race for the Iditarod, which requires a musher to have raced in several long distance races To raise money for the purse the club is holding a fundraiser this Friday, Jan. 18, at the Nome VFW. There will be a taco/nacho dinner, a silent auction and a split-the-pot raffle. The Nome band Bering Strait Jackets will supply the music.
On a regular basis the Nome Kennel Club stakes trails with trail lathes that feature a reflective tape to safely guide travelers by dog team or other modes of transportation to their destination, through storms and in the dark. The annual task to order, buy and bring up the trail stakes and reflective tape is done by NKC. In the past few years, NKC received a grant from NSEDC to purchase the trail stakes and the tape. Once the pallets of wooden lathes arrive in Nome, NKC club members usually get together for a “reflectorizing” party as the tape needs to be applied and stapled to the hundreds of wooden trail stakes.
This year, NKC teamed up with the Anvil Mountain Correctional Center. AMCC staff members and selected inmates will reflectorize the needed stakes for the season. “Hopefully we’ll get quite a stockpile made this month,” said NKC President Strandberg.
Asked whether NKC plans skijor races as well, Strandberg said the board would be considering it because of its growing popularity. “There’s a kernel of interest in the club,” he said. “Our main interest is in promoting the sport of dog mushing.”
He said if anybody is interested in mushing or in joining the club they should get in touch with a board member. In addition to racing or being involved in the local mushing scene, members can get involved in trail maintenance, fundraising activities and officiating at races. “Get to know a club member who mushes and perhaps help them out,” Strandberg said. “You can get membership applications from board members.”
The club held its general membership meeting in December and elected a few new board members. New to the board are Stephanie Johnson and Frank Carruthers. Other members are Neil Strandberg (president), Diana Haecker (secretary) and Kirsten Bey, who fills the remainder of the term of a seat that was occupied by Dawn Ubelaker.