Race day report from Bad Bob

The course is all marked and set at Birch Hill…  Danny and I will set out markers on the River in the morning, and deliver the TIMING SHACK.   We plan to arrive on the River at 7:30am.   Tom, Russ and Ken plan to be to the start/finish area with the drags and track sled between 7:30 and 8:00 am.  Then we will follow them back up River marking,  and return before the race start.

Here is the 40 km course…same as 50 km thru the warm-up loop, then the 40 km goes straight up the MAIN RAMP and directly into the TOWER LOOP, where it meets back up with the 50 km   The 40km measures a hair over 40 kilometers, and the 50 km appears to be very very close to 50 kilometers.   Both courses follow the MEDIVAC loop.  Hopefully no one will be confused.

Weather outlook for race day

Although we requested a sunny spring day for the 26th Sonot Kkaazoot, the weather decided otherwise. Good news: the Chena River is definitely safe for skiing and has been groomed to perfection. Not so good news: the weather forecasters are predicting snow and significant SW winds with temperatures falling through the day. For non-elite wave that plans to be out on the trails for awhile, dress appropriately for the conditions and take advantage of the food and beverages at the feed stations. You can always leave a layer at a feed station and pick it up on the way back to the finish. All clothes and water bottles left at feed stations will be brought back to Birch Hill for the awards ceremony.

Sonot Kkaazoot swag available at bib pick-up Thursday night

Technical fabric long-sleeved t-shirts and headbands with Sonot Kkaazoot design created by Fairbanks artist Dee Dee Hammond will be for sale at bib pick-up and at the Sonot Kkaazoot Awards Ceremony. The t-shirt modeled here by Frank Soos will be sold for $20 to race participants and volunteers; $25 for all others.

Photo by Margo Klass

Photo by Margo Klass

High tech fabric headbands (in white, blue, or orange) with Dee Dee’s design in multi-shades of blue will be sold to race participants and volunteers for $12 each, or $15 for others.Sonot headband orangeSonot headband navy


We will be able to take cash or personal checks for Sonot Kkaazoot swag. If an out-of-town skier cannot make either bib pick-up or the awards ceremony, and would like to purchase a shirt or headband, leave us a message in the comment section and someone will get back to you.

Tuesday Sonot course update

Your ski bottoms will not be scratched during the Sonot Kkaazoot while gliding over a barren stretch of ice and rocks under the Steese bridge thanks to Bill (Poles) Husby and his work party tonight. His report (with a couple of editorial comments):

“Seven SCUM with an average age of 63 and one red-headed Irishman shoveled snow under the Steese bridge this evening. It looked like someone had already dumped a few loads before our arrival. When you ski gracefully under the bridge thank Carl, Bob M, Eric, Terry, Frank, Andy, Donovan,myself and Dave B(the anonymous person(s)). Volunteer trail work this week totaled 16 person hours of snow hauling and 2 1/2 hours of brush cutting.

We’re scheduled to groom the river in the morning. I’ll send a message ASAP if more trail work is necessary.” (Update Wednesday: no further shoveling or brushing needed).

Sonot Kkaazoot course update

The sub-zero temperatures that have descended upon Interior Alaska during darkness hours for over a week have kept river break-up at bay. As of yesterday, Fort Wainwright groomers had turned the Sonot Connector and “ditch” between the ski lodge and the Chena River into beautiful corduroy. The first 5-hour dragging effort on the river was conducted yesterday after the Unlimited North American Sled Dog Races were over, and though rough in places, the river will be safe and skiable by race day, barring a radical change in weather. Full details will be available at bib pick-up this Thursday, 21 March.

Ditch on Sunday after piston bully passphoto by Bill Husby of “ditch” between Fort Wainwright alpine area and Chena River after grooming by Fort Wainwright piston bully on Sunday (St. Patrick’s Day)

Bad Bob’s Sonot Kkaazoot legacy

Wonder why Bad Bob Baker’s name included in just about every post on this Sonot blog?

The Sonot Kkaazoot is like Bad Bob’s 4th child. Where a trail didn’t exist, Bad Bob helped make one.

When all the chainsaws surrendered, Bad Bob attacked the brush with hand tools.


The amazing man in orange inspired us all winter when Birch Hill trails were less utilized than they are in springtime (photo by Bill Husby).Poles-Chris & Bad Bob

For 25 years in March, Bad Bob would start the Sonot Kkaazoot (photo by Daniel Baker Photography):SONY DSCthen jump in himself (photo from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner).

H2FQ_S24Sonot07Also for 25 years, he has produced the woodels for the Sonot Kkaazoot age category winners.


Bad Bob is imitated

4 bad bobs

but cannot be replaced (photo courtesy of Dermot Cole).

We hope that Bad Bob is enjoying his retirement from the Sonot Kkaazoot this year, because this boomerang “child” may not have fully fledged.

What your entry fee covers

As you approach the start line on the Chena River for the start of the 26th Annual Sonot Kkaazoot, you may wonder where you entry fee goes. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Denali State Bank, Doyon Limited, Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation, Fort Wainwright, and the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, we have race bibs, a fantastic location for early bib pick-up and race day start and finish support, a location for Birch Hill support and our awards ceremony, and fantastic ski trail grooming at Birch Hill, on the Chena River, and on along the ditch between the Chena River and the Fort Wainwright ski area and the Sonot Connector.

Although most of the race organizers are volunteers from the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, the head timer is reimbursed for her efforts and each of the main aid stations are staffed by middle and high school Cross Country Ski Team Booster Clubs who receive financial support from the Sonot Kkaazoot for their fruit and baked goodies and long day outside keeping skiers fueled and encouraged.  Entry fees also cover the costs of aid station cups and sports drinks, award ceremony supplies, soups, and breads, costs associated with fabricating awards, trail signage, and fuel for grooming equipment. Like in our personal lives, energy costs (in the case of the Sonot Kkaazoot, diesel for the Piston Bully and gasoline for the snowmachines) have increased substantially this year.  The Sonot Kkaazoot race course involves a minimum of three passes along approximately 38 km of trail as only the Chena River and the Fort Wainwright trails between the River and the top of the Sonot Connector are skied in both directions by 40 and 50 km Sonot participants.

Event swag (this year both technical fabric long-sleeved t-shirts and headbands with Sonot design by Fairbanks artist Dee Dee Hammond) will be sold to race participants at cost at the bib pick-up and awards ceremony.