Knik 200's a go; Norton Sound 450 is canceled

A sled dog race in Northwest Alaska has been canceled but another race set for this weekend in the Valley is on, although with changes.

The Knik 200 begins Saturday, although not at Knik Lake, which is usually where the race starts and finishes.

Poor trail conditions prompted race officials to move the start and finish north to the Deshka Landing airstrip, where teams are scheduled to leave Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. The race will be 172 miles long, officials reported. The shorter Knik 100 was canceled.

Also canceled was the Norton Sound 450, a race in Northwest Alaska created in 2012 to honor Paul Johnson, a popular Iditarod musher who died of cancer at age 54. Poor trail conditions, weather issues and logistic problems led to the decision not to run the race, scheduled to start Feb. 6.

The Norton Sound race boasted a small but top-notch field of entrants, including four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser; his son Rohn, a two-time Kuskokwim 300 champ; Bethel's Pete Kaiser, the newly minted Kusko champ; and veteran DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow

The race passes through villages at the end of the Iditarod Trail, including Unalakleet, Kaltag, Shaktoolik, White Mountain and Nome.

"We aren't letting the dream die," organizers said on the race's website. "We still believe this is an extremely viable race that is attractive to a wide range of mushers."