The Denali Doubles 100, the quirky sled dog race dreamed up 10 years ago by four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King, is happening this weekend on the Denali Highway.
Teams consisting of two people and one dog team of unlimited size will leave the start line at 1 p.m. Saturday from the Cantwell parking lot at Mile 130 of the Denali Highway. They’ll travel 51 miles to a turnaround point at Mile 78 and then head back to Cantwell.
The race is all about just saying no: No mandatory rests or layovers. No mandatory equipment. No dropped dogs. No support from anyone but your teammate. No littering. And this year, because of COVID-19, no hugging or kissing.
Eleven teams have signed up, according to a Dec. 7 Facebook post, including one from King’s Husky Homestead kennel, one from Nic Petit’s kennel and one from Anna and Kristy Berington’s Seeing Double Kennel.
The low-key race is one of the first in a winter that has already seen at least one cancellation.
The Knik 200, set to begin Jan. 2, was canceled last week because of “rain, warm temperature and the lack of sufficient snow in the Knik area,” according to a post on the race’s Facebook page.
This is the third straight year the 100- and 200-mile races have been canceled.
Mid-distance races still on the schedule include the Copper Basin 300 (starts Jan. 9 in Glennallen), the Kusko 300 (Jan. 15 in Bethel) and the Willow 300 (Feb. 4 in Willow).
On the sprint mushing side of things, volunteers are busy working on Tozier Track trails in Anchorage, where the first races are scheduled for Jan. 2-3. According to the Alaskan Sled Dog and Racing Association website, conditions are improving but trail workers are dealing with some slushy snow and overflow.