Note to skiers on changing Sonot Kkaazoot race distance

From Bob Baker, RACE  DIRECTOR, here are the rules.    

All participants will only be allowed to participate in the race that they are registered in.  If a participant decides to change their race distance, they must check in at the bib pickup and make the change before 9:30am.  They will be reassigned a new bib for their chosen race distance.  They should not wait till the last minute.  Once race day bib pickup is complete, participants will only be timed based on their final race selection before the start of the race. 

SO, for example:  a 30 km participant decides they are feeling great and continues on to finish the 50 km, they would be disqualified, same thing if a 50 km participant decides that they have had enough and finishes at the 30 km point, they would also be disqualified.      

SIMPLE  RULES……Participate in only the race you are officially signed up for….  PLEASE…  this is a great and FUN event, there is no need to confuse everyone involved.    PARTICIPATE   IN  ONLY WHAT  YOU  HAVE   REGISTERED   FOR…..  

191 skiers set to start the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot

When late registration ended at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, 23 March 2023, 191 skiers had signed up for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. Eighty-seven skiers selected the 10 km course, 53 will embark on the 30 km course, and 51 will start the 50 km course.

Day of race bib pickup is at Rikka’s Roadhouse (small building next to the Timing Building) from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. only.

We look forward to seeing you on the awesomely groomed trails on Saturday. Mass start for the 10 km event is at 10:00 a.m. and for the 30 and 50 km events at 10:15 a.m.

Race banquet and awards ceremony starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Birch Hill Recreation Building, upstairs.

Have fun, skiers and race volunteers!

Late registration and early bib pickup tonight at Birch Hill from 5 to 7 p.m.

All registration for the Sonot Kkaazoot is online (see Sonot Kkaazoot main page for link) and will end tonight at 11:59 p.m. Early bib pickup is tonight upstairs at the Birch Hill Recreation Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Please participate as it will make race day easier for you and for race organizers.

Once you have picked up a bib, you must ski that course. If you have already registered, you can change courses prior to bib pickup but will need to go to the line for new registrations and changes. If you have registered for the 10 km event and now want to enter the 30 or 50 km events, you will need to pay the additional entry fee with cash or check. We cannot take credit cards. If you do not have internet access, we can register you tonight.

We currently (9:30 a.m. Thursday) have 180 skiers signed up for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.

Official word (from John Estle) on difficulty of 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot course

The courses on the attached maps (course maps on Sonot Kkaazoot website) were plotted in the same FIS Homologation Software (online software) used to generate the specs for our FIS-Homologated competition courses.  The elevation data was based on a digital elevation model (DEM) generated from “the National Map” a USGS-provided data set.  Using a DEM from the National Map is an accepted practice as part of the FIS course-homologation process.  TC = “Total Climb” – the sum of all the partial height differences of every elevation gain on the course.

Section 1 = TC 626m / 16,572m

Section 2 = TC 408m / 14,135m (1034m / 30,707m partial total)

Section 3 = TC 655m / 20,021m (1689m / 50, 728m total)


Total = 1689m

Those amounts work out to an average of 33.3m/Km of climbing.  FIS specs for race courses over 5Km in length are required to be in the range of 25m/Km to 42m/Km.  The Sonot course is 33% above the minimum.  That amount of climb per Km is a degree of “physical challenge” (a FIS term) that is not typical for “popular competitions” (how FIS would categorize the Sonot Kkaazoot were it a FIS competition).  Most 50Km popular competition fall below the lower limit of the FIS specs.  On the other hand . . . a course used for a World Cup 50Km would still be legal with 25% more climbing than the Sonot course.  And the top male skiers would probably do that under two hours on fast snow.

Black Funk 5Km, South Tower 5Km and the Tower Island-Surprise 1350m sprint course (courses used at the 2023 Junior Nationals) are among about 10 homologated courses at Birch Hill for which the course specs were generated from that same DEM/dataset.  No dataset is perfect, and there are always errors in measurements.  However, the FIS Homologation Committee believes that datasets such as the one I used for the Birch Hill courses is sufficient to use as a basis for certifying that the course is what the specs say it is.

You can find homologation info at > Cross Country > Homologations.  Use USA in the nation field and apply the filter and you can see all the homologated courses in the US.

There is no homologation certificate for the Birkie course.  However, you might try contacting Allan Serrano ( who was the FIS Homologation Inspector for a 30Km course at Seeley Hills, WI, part of which might be part of the BIrkie course.  He might be able to provide you with some approximate (or precise) specs for the Birkie course itself.

Can’t think of anything else informative to add.

-John Estle email to Eric Troyer on how the total climb for the 50 km course was calculated

Regular Sonot Kkaazoot registration ends tomorrow night

The sun is out and the temperatures have risen dramatically. What excuses do you have for not registering for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot? It will truly be a spring event this year.

As of 3:50 p.m. today, we have 36 skiers signed up for the 10 km event, 20 for the 30 km, and 42 for the 50 km. That leaves lots of woodels not being contested at present. Regular Sonot Kkaazoot registration ends tomorrow night, so don’t delay or you’ll have to pay late registration fees. There is no registration after 11:59 p.m. ADT Thursday night so don’t be disappointed.

Early bib pickup will be Thursday night from 5 to 7 p.m. upstairs in the Birch Hill Recreation Center. Please participate. All registration is online.

How tough is the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot?

In 2022, to avoid using the unpredictably frozen Chena River, Sonot Kkaazoot organizer, Bad Bob Baker initiated three new Sonot Kkaazoot courses. The “all-Birch Hill” 50-km course has 1,689 m of total climb. For comparison: the Birkie Skate Trail has a total climb of 1,398 m.

The last 20 kilometers of the Sonot Kkaazoot are particularly challenging as a skier faces the Sonot Connector (a 116 m long A climb) with 37 km of skiing already on one’s legs. That climb is followed closely by the Hilltop (33 m A climb) and Heartrate Hill (65 m A climb) as the skier skis White Bear for the second time.

Profile of last 20 km of the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot

Don’t worry, there’s a feed station at Sonot Junction so you’ll be able to rehydrate at the top of the Sonot Connector and again after you descend from the top of Heartrate Hill.

However, the SCUM might be in the market for e-skis by that point. Last year, after 2 years of virtual Sonot Kkaazoot efforts, none of the SCUM were able to complete the new 50 km Sonot course. Fighting accelerating carcass and engine deterioration, the SCUM won’t be racing the clock but rather the calendar. Can skiers over 70 years old with both mental and physical impairments still finish the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot? Stay tuned. Several have registered to try again. They’ll be out at Birch Hill next week volunteering at the Junior National Championships.

SCUM left behind

By definition, SCUM rises to the top, but nowhere does being a SCUM signify possessing speed. Thus, during SCUM workouts, Mom is frequently left far behind, and she subsequently takes unplanned diversions to amuse herself. So today, Bill Husby, decided that I needed to carry an Apple AirTag so that overachieving SCUM could come back and find me. (Aside: 25 years ago, when the SCUM were much younger, Sgt. SCUM, aka Mark Haas, would ski back and find all the lagging SCUM without any electronic gadgets. FWW Army band members were better at tracking than former Lathrop High School teachers, apparently.)

However, out the South Birch Hill Parking Lot, I had multiple Rosie Brennan moments where my left ski was not attached to my left boot.

Mom’s Rosie Brennan moment before workout began–all photos by Dan Johnson

Fortunately, after I had inserted my ski boot to binding a dozen times without successful attachment, Dermot came to my rescue. Seven minutes later and with cold fingers and thumbs, we headed up the stadium ramp without a lot of glide.

Boot and binding aligned and cleared of ice thanks to Dermot

We started out on the newly groomed and tracked trails by skiing the Tower, Medevac, Blue and Outhouse. At the Sunnyside cutoff, Mom and Dermot decided that Sunnyside would be much more enjoyable since the sun was out today, unobstructed by clouds. Since we were headed downhill the extra inch of snow on the trails wouldn’t be a problem.

However, eventually the air tag told Bill that we weren’t following them:

SCUM left behind, Tattletale AirTag

The SCUM caught us as we had decided to go down Cliffside and up the Sonot Connector. Dan and Bill wanted to turn back at the Cliffside gate because Dan’s feet were getting cold and Bill said Sonot Connector wouldn’t be groomed until Friday. When Dermot and I pointed out that it WAS Friday, the SCUM followed us down Cliffside and up the Sonot Connector, where apparently, Bill was pinging the AirTag:

However, I couldn’t hear the pinging because Dermot serenades everyone around him when he skis with a cacophony of groans, moans, and other animal sounds:

Dermot penguin walking with south effects--video by Joanna Fox

Dan, Tim, and Bill waited for us in the sun at the road crossing at the top of the Sonot Connector, wondering why I hadn’t heard the pinging. We finished off the incoming White Bear, where Doyon Utilities had removed a number of trees touching the power lines recently. Much more daylight was seen on the last km of the White Bear as a result. Finishing on the Warmup Loop, Bill and Dan were humored by their IT success before they headed off for the Skiathon on Sunday.

Dermot and I won’t be at the Skiathon as we need to do a several hour skate workout as we prepare for the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot. We’ve already signed up at the early registration rate, which ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Bad Bob Baker interviewed by Arctic Vibe on Sonot Kkaazoot

The collaboration between the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright has increased the number and variety of groomed Nordic ski trails available to both civilians and military personnel in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Through all 36 years of the Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, Fort Wainwright has been a key sponsor because the race has involved trails on military land.

Recently, Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot race originator and current organizer was interviewed by U.S. Army Garrison Alaska Commander Col. Nate Surrey for Fort Wainwright’s monthly Arctic Vibe show. Here’s Bad Bob’s interview as part of the Arctic Vibe: Ready for Spring program.

Arctic Vibe program for March cued to section with interview with Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot race organizer

Fort Wainwright thinks that skiing the Sonot Kkaazoot is a great way to get ready for spring. We definitely agree.