For 35 years, the Sonot Kkaazoot has served as the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks‘ springtime celebration of the return of longer days and faster snow. The race was conceived (and for many years organized) by Bad Bob Baker and his extended family. The SCUM organized the Sonot Kkaazoot from 2013 to 2018. Don and Tracie Pendergrast and Nick Nugent have also served as past race organizers. The Sonot Kkaazoot has never been canceled although the route has changed over the years.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sonot Kkaazoot was virtual in 2020 and 2021. Beginning in 2022, the Sonot Kkaazoot has three courses: a 10 km, 30 km and 50 km, all at Birch Hill Recreation Area. The 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot course no longer includes 20 km on the Chena River, so times from 2022 forward will not be comparable with older 50 km times. The new 50 km course involves 1,689 m of total climb (this is 291 m more than the Birkie Skate Trail and 310 m more than the Birkie Classic Trail)!
In 2022, the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot was won by Galen Johnston of Anchorage in a time of 2:35:05.8; Rosie Fordham from Sydney, Australia, skiing for the Alaska Nanooks won the women’s 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot with a time of 2:43:15.8.
In the 30 km Sonot Kkaazoot, Kieran Kaufman of Fairbanks won with a time of 1:37:05.8 for the men, and Meredith Schwartz of Anchorage won with a time of 1:53:00.5 for the women.
In the 10 km Sonot, Fairbanks’ Elias Engman won with a time of 32:30.0 and Hannah Delamere of Fairbanks was the winning female with a time of 41:55.1.
Six skiers have won the Sonot Kkaazoot 50 km race more than twice. Melissa (Fink) Lewis has won the race an amazing total of 6 times (1993, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2011). Two men and four women have won the race three times: Audun Endestad (1997, 1998, 1999), Peter Alden (1990, 1993, 1995), Donna Hawkins (1994, 1995, 1996), Sigrid Aas (2001, 2003, 2008), and Rebecca Konieczny (2014, 2015, 2016).
As always, the real heroes are the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of skiers of all ages who helped celebrate the return of sunshine to Interior Alaska for 35 years. Please join us in 2023 for our 36th annual event.
(Banner photograph is courtesy of Daniel Baker Photography)