Stephanie Johnson runs her dog team, well-decked out with colorful blankets to protect against the cold.

Third Nome Kennel Club race runs on beautiful, chilly day

The third mushing race of the season for the Nome Kennel Club ran on Saturday with windchill temperatures of -22°F and beautiful sunshine. The race course wound for 26 miles, going up over the shoulder of Newton to Dexter, then along the Nome River to the VOR site and from there back to the start-finish at the Muni snow dump. The wind was mostly light.

The fastest of the day was Nils Hahn with 12 dogs. He completed the course in 2 hours, 15 min and 10 seconds, seven and a half minutes ahead of runner-up Sarah Richards, who ran eight dogs. Five mushers competed in total.

“I thought it was great,” said Sarah Richards about the course at the finish. “There were a couple of rough spots on the river, there was some kind of jumbly ice. There were some exciting parts. There were definitely some steep turns and downhills and steep uphills. We had a great time. That trail is kind of in our backyard, so we run it quite a bit and enjoy it.”

Richards said she rode the brake a lot on the downhills to slow the team. “I don’t want them to trip and injure themselves,” she said. “We went quite a bit slower on the uphills for sure because I just had an 8-dog team. It would have been nice to have some more power today. On the straightaways and the flatter stuff we were awesome and were able to trot right along and keep up a pretty good pace.”

“This is the most beautiful trail we’ve had in a long, long time,” said musher Stephanie Johnson. “We actually went around it on Wednesday just to see where it was. I live clear on the other side, on the Snake River side and I don’t have these nice groomed trails very often. So, I brought the dogs over here on Wednesday and we went around the loop. It’s really nice, really, really nice.”

“Last Wednesday, as I understand it, Stephanie Johnson, Diana Haecker, and Phil Pryzmont went out along the trail pulling the trail groomer,” said the Nome Kennel Club’s board president Neil Strandberg, who acted as race marshal during the race. “A fair amount of the trail was staked and they added a few more stakes. This morning at 8:30 Phil and I drove the trail and groomed it, Phil pulling the groomer behind a snow machine, and me in lead.”

At the finish line, as she snacked her dogs, Stephanie Johnson praised them. “They did really well,” she said. “I think for me, my mile-per-hour was probably above average from what I’m used to doing. I don’t have sprint dogs. These are more expedition-type dogs. All these guys did the Serum Run last year and they trot along at about eight and a half to nine miles an hour. We’re preparing for a 400-mile trip to Granite Mountain, Granite Hot Springs so what I wanted them to learn to do is to trot not sprint. They need to conserve energy.”

She’s going to do the Granite Hot Springs trip around March 1st through the 13th. A fellow 2020 Serum Run participant, Juliah Deloach, will fly in and hopefully be able to participate in the Pilgrim Hot Springs Race NKC is hosting on Feb. 27-28. Also doing the trek to Granite Mountain will be Phil and Erica Pryzmont, Josh Osborne and Frank Carruthers.



1. Nils Hahn 12 dogs; 2:15:10

2. Sarah Richards 8 dogs; 2:22:56

3. Diana Haecker 12 dogs; 2:26:12

4. Reese Madden 8 dogs; 2:34:27

5. Stephanie Johnson 12 dogs 2:44:48


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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