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Nic Petit extends his reign as ruler of the Willow 300

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: February 6
  • Published February 6

Nicolas Petit talks to others at the Trapper Creek checkpoint during the Willow 300 sled dog race on Friday. (Photo by Marc Lester)

On the menu Saturday at Sheep Creek Lodge: a Petit four.

Nic Petit of Girdwood maintained his ownership of the Willow 300 sled dog race by claiming his fourth championship in the fourth edition of the race through the Susitna Valley.

Petit reached the Sheep Creek Lodge finish line at 12:52 p.m. Saturday, 25 minutes ahead of runner-up Travis Beals of Seward. He topped a field of 41 mushers that left the Deshka Landing start line Thursday morning.

There was a 41-minute gap between Beals and third-place Linwood Fiedler of Willow, who finished at 1:58 p.m. Wade Marrs of Willow finished in fourth place at 2:09 p.m.

The race for fifth place was a close one between rookies Julie Ahnen of Cantwell and Hunter Keefe of Willow, with Ahnen crossing the finish line first. Both arrived at 2:42 p.m.

Aaron Burmeister of Nome placed seventh at 2:52 p.m., and Cim Smyth of Big Lake was eighth at 3:09 p.m.

During their 300-mile run, teams made checkpoint stops at Susitna Landing, Sheep Creek Lodge, Trapper Creek and Forks Roadhouse before returning to Sheep Creek Lodge.

The trail was punchy in spots toward the end of the final 77-mile run from Forks Roadhouse to Sheep Creek, but overall conditions were as good as ever, a race official said.

Petit seized the lead Friday morning by being the first to leave Sheep Creek. His previous Willow 300 titles came in 2017, 2018 and 2020. The 2019 race was canceled amid warm weather.