Thanks for a fabulous 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot

Under sunny skies, the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot was successfully completed by 236 skiers. Participants who ranged in age from 8 to 73 participated in four events ranging in distance from 20 km to 50 km. While most of the skiers were from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, this year the Sonot Kkaazoot welcomed 54 skiers who reside elsewhere in the state or outside Alaska.

The organizers would like to thank our title sponsor, Denali State Bank, who has supported the Sonot Kkaazoot since Bad Bob Baker originated the race in 1988.

We also acknowledge the major contribution of Doyon, Limited, Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation, Fort Wainwright, U.S. Army Alaska, Foundation Health Partners, and the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks in making possible this Nordic ski event that begins in downtown Fairbanks, traverses the Chena River to Fort Wainwright, and then follows Fort Wainwright trails to Birch Hill Recreational Area before returning to the start downtown.

Enthusiastic volunteers provided timing assistance and course work, staffed feed stations, road crossings, bib pick-up and registration, and the post-race awards ceremony (see Volunteers page above). The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers worked tirelessly to ensure awesome trail conditions.

Thank you to all our sponsors, volunteers, and skiers. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!


Photo by Margo Klass

Results of Sonot Kkaazoot wax survey

Just one week out from last Saturday’s cold Sonot Kkaazoot, and temperatures yesterday were near 50 deg F!

Below are skiers’ choices on glide and kick waxes last Saturday and their observations on the results. Thanks to all who contributed their efforts.

50 FS skiers

GK: I don’t have a good wax rec, but I just have to say that last year the 30 k at Birch Hill took me 1:41, my training log says. And I skied a better race this year, and that time the middle section took me a full 15 minutes longer, 1:56. So that’s a really long time

re: wax, I had: – cold powder mixed with Toko LF Blue, left on to harden for 24+ hours before scraping; then: Toko LF Black;  Swix HF4BW;  Toko Jetstream Blue block [this ran better than Rex TK-72 in my Friday testing]. No great insights there – just cold, cold cold – but if that helps, there you have it.

NC: On the topic of waxes, I used green glide wax and found it great in the morning on the river and very slow on the shady sections of the course (black hole, outhouse, and tower.) It was also pretty good coming back down the river in the afternoon. I don’t know if there is any way you can control for the temps and shade of the course.
SS: Fred Raymond of Raven XC prepped my skis. He used LF3/HA8 covered with C7 and Jetstream Blue. My skis were moving faster than my body was for most of my tour around the 50 km course. Like BM (below), I found the glide on the bottom of the Black Hole much better than the the upper black loops that were still in the shade. The sun/shade differences were very noticeable. I was faster returning on the river (and my HR was lower) than heading out in the morning even though I took a 3 min break at the Trainor Gate feed station coming home.
50 CL skiers

BM: Here are my observations:1: The snow was indeed quite slow. The river took me about 36 minutes to do starting and about 42 finishing. I have done the same stretch in 31 and 34 in faster conditions. I knew it was going to be a grind by the fact that I did very little double poling on the river. Normally that is about all I do starting, this year I diagonaled pretty much the whole river. I did very little double poling coming back because I was so tired from the rest of the race. Thankfully my back held up and I was able to shuffle along in decent fashion.

2: My wax setup worked beautifully, I was even able to keep about 90% of the wax at the end on skis notorious for stripping. I ironed in a light layer of Chola binder and then while the bases were hot put on a liberal amount of Toko Blue kick. I let them fully cool and then added 3 layers of Toko green over.  I had very solid kick all the way to the finish. The limiting factor was my fatigue rather than loss of kick wax. For glide I opted for Start HF8. I decided not to go with Swix wax because the snow was so dry and had been so cold with no time to warmup before the race. Typically I wax for the finish but this year I felt that it would not warm up as fast and the cold snow would buy time to complete more of the race before I was out of  temp range. I felt that it worked. I had dry spots in the usual spots behind my heels and a little ahead of the kick zone.

3: The tracks were sublime but slow. I love a firm track, it really gives confidence on the descents. The trouble was that they were decidedly slow. Two areas stand out as having outstanding track speed: The lower section of the Black Cross that was not groomed and had old tracks (blistering fast) and the sweetest section of the whole day belonged to the descent on the blue loop. Rocket fast and I was able to glide all the way to the corner as you start to climb back up. It was refreshing to have that familiar rush of acceleration going down that hill (something missing from several hills that should have matched or exceeded that speed). The common denominator for both of these sections was that they were set 48 hours ahead rather than 24.  I think what was telling was that after the comp loops I started to get out of the tracks more and more to not only go best line through turns but also to pick up more speed in the skate lane than the tracks had to offer. This option is somewhat limited by the nature of the trails but it was telling that I was going that route to try and glean more speed from the trail.

JJ: Used two pairs of skiis   The stiffer camber pair to prevent loss of kickwax on the way out. The lighter camber for the last half hoping to have as little kickwax as possible when returning on River.

My initial pair had took green binder with the first of three layers of rode multigrade b/g ironed in.  Cover for the outbound trip was One layer of Nordic.  Great kick all the way to the stadium. Changed out skis before warmup loop. Good kick for the duration with same kickwax as first pair except for the Nordic cover layer

FS:  1) start binder.  This is nasty stuff to work with, but I find it is almost fool-proof (speaking as a foolish person).  I put it on by running my heat gun up and down the kick zone for a short while, then pointing the heat gun right into the wax can, get the wax warm, scoot it onto the ski—not much is needed and that’s the key to using this binder regularly, not to get it too thick.  Then I cork it in with cork in one hand, heat gun in the other to keep the binder moving.  2) Star/Target Top Blue over that. 3) Some Star/target Green on top since it was cold on the river at the start. Easy, effective.  I finished with plenty of kick wax.  Cheap and effective.

Sonot Kkaazoot volunteers at 20 km turnaround

The photos below show some of the road crossing volunteers on race day: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA




And the photos below show some key Sonot Kkaazoot organizers participating in the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot.

Frank Soos, guru of bibs and 50% of the team (with his wife, Margo Klass) that designed the fantastic Sonot Kkaazoot hats:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chris Puchner, organizer of feed stations and the Sonot Kkaazoot start and finish area, skis his longest Sonot Kkaazoot (thanks to pneumonia, work, and out-of-state family issues):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bill Husby, one of the key NSCF groomers, before he broke his ski pole and skied 12 km with just one:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mike Schmoker, master of the woodel construction and award presentations:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bruce Jamieson, NSCF president and World Masters skier:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Robert Hannon, Fort Wainwright contact and media mogul:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All photos by Eric Troyer

Sonot Kkaazoot 50 km course distances

In response to our request for skier GPS measurements of the 50 and 40 km Sonot Kkaazoot courses on Saturday, here is the data that we’ve been able to compile for the 50 km course. If you wore a device on Saturday while skiing the 40 or 50 km courses, we’d like to include your information.

Skier Instrument

Distance (km)

Ascent (m)



SS Polar V800



CP Garmin Forerunner 910XT


NC Timex Global Trainer


NV GPS app Motion X on I phone







std deviation


Final 2017 Sonot Kkaazoot results are posted

Thanks to Anna Sorensen, who barely caught her breath between serving as head timer for the Sonot Kkaazoot and chief of timing for the Super Tour Finals/USSA Distance National Championships, the final 2017 Sonot Kkaazoot times are posted. Results by class and by sex are available for download as PDF files on the Results page.

Although the elite skiers were absent from the 2017 Sonot Kkaazoot, Mother Nature made sure that the remaining skiers were sufficiently challenged. Last night at the Super Tour Skiathlon, temperatures were almost 30 deg warmer than at the start of the Sonot Kkaazoot on Saturday. So serving as a Super Tour volunteer wasn’t close to being as heroic as our Sonot Kkaazoot volunteers had to be.

Requests from 2017 Sonot Kkaazoot organizers

Even though the SCUM have physical and mental challenges, we like to learn from our experiences (good and not-so-good). Thus, we have two requests of you, the Sonot Kkaazoot skiers:

  1. Because some of the Jim Whisenhant ski trails at Birch Hill had to be modified because of the construction of the new grooming garage, Bad Bob Baker, Sonot chief-of-course, would like to know what distances your GPS devices recorded for the 40 and 50 km events on Saturday. Please let us know what device you were using and what course distance you obtained. Send your data to: and we’ll tally the results and adjust next year’s courses accordingly.
  2. A number of skiers found their glide and kick waxes to be exceedingly slow on Saturday. In the interest of speeding up race times so that the race course volunteers don’t succumb to hypothermia, please pass along any suggestions of wax combinations that worked or didn’t, and we’ll post that information for the collective Sonot Kkkaazoot blog following. Again send your comments, suggestions, and bitter disappointments to:

Just finishing the Sonot Kkaazoot is a win for some

Peter Leonard and Kate Fitzgerald are amazing skiers and their 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot victories Saturday were well-deserved. To many of us, just finishing the annual Sonot Kkaazoot is an accomplishment because of our increasing age and health-related challenges.

Among the SCUM organizers of the Sonot Kkaazoot, there were little internal achievements. This year, Byron Broda (who skis with two total knee replacements) beat Bad Bob Baker (whose heart stopped in June 2016 after winning his heat at the Jim Loftus Mile) to the 50 km finish line. Bruce Jamieson, who skied while undergoing chemotherapy had an endurance challenge shorter than that of  Chris Puchner (who is still recovering from a bout of pneumonia). Bruce and Chris both skied at World Masters in Switzerland as did Baker and Owen Hanley, all SCUM volunteers for Saturday’s Sonot Kkaazoot.

Ken Coe, the trail sweep at Birch Hill, followed me from the top of the Sonot Connector and I could hear him behind me as I departed the stadium for the last time, However, I surprised Bob Baker, the Chena River sweep, because I was no longer the red lantern. That was because the wind had picked up a little and Dermot Cole’s layers of clothing became an effective sail holding him back.  Thus, with my left leg cramping, I was able to pass him several km from the finish.

Final 50 km Sonot finisher

Photo by Susie Frei

As the final two 50 km finishers, we got the best bargain on our entry fees (most time per dollar spent). We’ll be back next year. I hope that you will be, too.


Photographs from the 20 km turnaround


Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot founder and chief of course–photo by Eric Troyer

Eric Troyer, SCUM volunteer during the Sonot Kkaazoot (who is currently running the White Mountain 100) has shared a google album of his photographs:

You are free to download any photographs, but if you download, he asks that you contribute to the Birch Hill trails fund:

(If you need a larger version of a specific photo, Eric can email you one: fbxskierparent [at] DIGITAL CAMERA

2017 Sonot Kkaazoot winners

Although all the 236 Sonot Kkaazoot skiers who finished the 30th annual Sonot Kkaazoot were winners (especially those skiers who volunteered and skied), the skiers who crossed the finish line first were:

Pete Leonard 50 km Men’s winner in 2:38:08.4

Pete Leonard 50 km winner.jpg

Kate Fitzgerald 50 km Women’s winner in 2:55:25.9:


Bruce Miller 50 km CL Men’s winner in 3:20:55.9:


Hilary Saucy 50 CL Women’s winner in 4:26:30.9


Neill Toelle 40 km Men’s winner in 2:25:37.5:


Davya Flaharty 40 km Women’s winner in 2:46:51.2:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jonathan Burrell 20 km Men’s winner in 52:53.8

Rebecca Konieczny 20 km Women’s winner in 55:30.9


All photos by Eric Troyer of skiers at 20 km turnaround point on Fort Wainwright. Will try to add other photos later. Some skiers bibs were covered at this point so their identity is uncertain.