28th Annual Sonot Kkaazoot


Athabaskan: Sonot (pronounced “SAW NOT”, “springtime”) Kkaazoot (“to slide your feet across the snow”)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Again this year: four events with three staggered starts:

50 km (classical technique), Mass start at 9:30 a.m.

50 km freestyle, Mass start at 10:00 a.m.

40 km freestyle, Mass start at 10:00 a.m. (includes all of 50 km course except for Competition, Black Hole, North 40, Blue & Outhouse trails)

20 km freestyle, Mass start at 10:30 a.m. (Chena River only)

All events start and finish on the Chena River at the Centennial Bridge (downtown)

Feed stations hosted by local ski teams and groups: every 5 to 6 km beginning at 10:00 a.m.

River Breakup: If the Chena River is deemed unsafe, we will start all events at Birch Hill at 10:30 a.m.

Awards Ceremony: 6:00 p.m. at Birch Hill Ski Center. Soups, breads, and drinks will be provided. Local skiers are asked to bring a salad or dessert to feed 10 hungry people.

Secure online registration for the Sonot Kkaazoot on the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks website is available on the REGISTER tab at the top of this site.

Entry fees (no refunds–the Sonot Kkaazoot has never been cancelled)

Early registration (must be received by 5 p.m. A.S.T. on 27 February 2015):

20 km event: $15 for skiers 16 or younger on race day; $30 for those 17 or older

40 km and 50 km events: $40

Second deadline (must be received by 5 p.m. A.D.T. on 20 March 2015):

20 km events: $25 for skiers 16 or younger; $40 for those 17 or older

40 km and 50 km events: $50

Late Registration and bib pick-up (must be received by 7 p.m. on 26 March 2015:

5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, 26 March 2015 at the Doyon, Limited, Headquarters, 1 Doyon Place, downtown Fairbanks

20 km events: $35 for skiers 16 or younger; $50 for those 17 or older

40 km and 50 km events: $60

IMPORTANT: Bib pick-up is the last opportunity to change event and/or distance you are entering without paying race day fee.

Day of Race bib pick-up and registration: 8 to 9 a.m. on 28 March 2015:

20 km events: $55 for skiers 16 or younger; $70 for those 17 or older

40 km and 50 km events: $80

Banner photo courtesy of Retrospection Image.

Early registration for Sonot Kkaazoot ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, 27 February 2015

Just a reminder that early registration for the Sonot Kkaazoot ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, 27 February 2015. Register now and save some money.

Volunteers are needed for inside and outdoor jobs on race day and before. Just leave a comment on the “Volunteers” page and we’ll get back to you.

Thanks from the Sonot Kkaazoot organizers.

Also, don’t forget the last Buetow Dental Distance Race (7.5 km to 30 km freestyle) is this Sunday, 1 March 2015 starting at 11:00 a.m. at Birch Hill Recreation Area.


The key to a cold-weather adventure: having a proper map

After the unusually warm early winter in Interior Alaska, the recent cold spell caught some of us unprepared and others just not acclimatized to the sub-zero conditions with a breeze that mixed upwards the cold air from the valleys. However, with the Sonot Kkaazoot rapidly approaching, it was time for a long overdistance ski on the south-facing classical loops off the Sonot Connector. Bill Husby (aka Poles), one of the Birch Hill groomers had personally tracked the Little Bird Trail allowing us to do a figure 8 involving the Black Hawk and Chinook Trails in a different sequence than any of us had skied previously. Thus, with skiers of varying speeds, it was important that all of us have a proper map that was provided by Poles himself as shown below:

Having a proper mapFrank, our group’s writer laureate, read back the directions to all of us, while Dermot, the group’s historian, documented the map and directions as a video on his iphone. So off we went in search of sun and a little adventure away from the well-traveled trails on a breezy, chilly day.

Poles was leading the elite SCUM while Dermot, Dan, and I were clearly in the red lantern position even before Dan peeled off with under-performing electrical hand warmers. Once we entered the Black Hawk Trail, the “A” SCUM disappeared in the woods, and we were alone without so much as a squirrel on the trail. Where the Little Bird Trail intersected with the Black Hawk, we had two choices: right or left, so we headed right as it appeared to be heading downhill, which was the general way we were headed. It was also the longer of the two options so we figured if we had guessed wrong, the “A” SCUM would be returning in the opposite direction so we could then follow them. After some time of skiing and entertaining each other with ill-timed crashes into the soft snow on either side of the narrow trail, we worked our way back to the Sonot Connecter where we encountered a skier with a backpack, dog, and hard hat who was out for a different sort of adventure than we were. We skied down to the lower end of the Chinook Loop where we found Don who had just bailed from the “A” group who had left a tree marker on the Sonot Connector indicating the way they had headed (even further down the hill). Seeking warmth, we skied the rest of the Chinook and Black Hawk Trails that we hadn’t skied and then wandered back to the Birch Hill hut later than we had intended.

Lesson learned: a good map is essential to any adventure. One needs to make sure that the map is on a device that can be accessed even when the ambient temperature is colder than -20 deg F.

Speaking of devices, you’ll need a phone or computer plus a credit care to sign up for the Sonot Kkaazoot this year as all entries will be done online. See the register tab above. The deadline for early registration is 27 February 2015 at 5 p.m. A.S.T.


Good News: Rescheduled Distance Races #2 and #3

With early registration for the Sonot Kkaazoot ending on 27 February, it is time to test your endurance at longer distances. The Distance Race #2 has been rescheduled for Sunday, 15 February and will be 10 and 20 km classical technique. Here is the course:

2-15-15_Distance Race 2

The 15 and 30 km Distance Race #3 in freestyle technique will be held Sunday, 1 March 2015 and will be a two or four lap course so you can get an idea of whether you are capable of holding steady pace over these distances. Here is the planned course:

3-1-15 Distance Race 3

Let the fun begin. Both races start at 11:00 a.m. and more details can be found on the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks website.


It’s still warmer than normal

Although two recent Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks events have been postponed due to cold, 2014 was the 4th warmest year in Fairbanks in over a century.


Deviation of  temp means from normalNordic skiers in Fairbanks are just not acclimated yet. Look at how much warmer (red bars) we’ve been than normal this winter. Also, remember we had a cold dip last January as well as a colder than normal February.

We should embrace our cold because our ski trails are snow-covered, and they won’t be melting soon. This cold weather is also good news for skiing on the Chena River this winter and spring.


Distance Race # 2 Postponed

After a record warm winter so far in Interior Alaska, when the temperature was colder than -20 deg F this morning with wonderful hoarfrost snow still condensing from the skies, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks Race Coordinator, John Estle, postponed Distance Race #2. However, with the course already groomed (but not marked with “V” board and pin flags), race-ready skiers ventured out onto the trails to take advantage of the opportunity to do their own time trial. As it turned out, they also got an opportunity to do their own course because of late changes only the groomers had seen:

New course

Like little vegetable and flower starts that have spent the winter in a greenhouse, our training session today was like the “hardening” sessions that transplants get before moving outside to garden plots.

Thanks to Dermot Cole (cold weather photographer), here’s an action shot of two skiers on the course:

Action shot


and one of them at the end of the “race”, sufficiently “hardened” to thrive in the race when it is rescheduled.



Stay tuned for the new race date.