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Fur Rondy sled dog races canceled due to poor trail conditions

The Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship sled dog sprint races are the latest victim of warm weather that has obliterated trail conditions around Southcentral Alaska and in Anchorage, despite the work of volunteers.

Race officials announced the decision to cancel the races Sunday. The races had been scheduled to run in Anchorage on Friday, Saturday and March 1, and 20 mushers had signed up for the 2015 competition.

The decision was wrenching, said Race Marshal Janet Clarke, because this year's races were especially meaningful due to the Anchorage centennial and because they offered a chance to honor the memory of legendary sprint musher George Attla, who died earlier this month.

"Even with all the daunting aspects of a very poor snow year, we approached the last two weeks as 'we have to have this race,' " Clarke said Sunday.

On Saturday, volunteers had been out on the trails in driving rain, trying to cover areas of bare grass, dirt and asphalt with snow. In some areas, asphalt was coated with ice. Just when one section seemed shored up, another would fail.

"Yesterday all of us were doing this in the rain. We simply lost all the ground we had gotten," Clarke said. "Our trail boss summed it up: We can fill in holes but we cant fill in a whole 10 miles of trail."

The last time the races were canceled was in 2006, also due to lack of snow.

Despite the cancelation, a dedication ceremony honoring Attla will be held at noon Saturday near the race start-finish line at the corner of Fourth Avenue and D Street, Clarke said.

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