Athabaskan: Sonot (pronounced “SAW NOT”, “springtime”) Kkaazoot (“to slide your feet across the snow”)
Saturday, March 28, 2015
We did it! The 28th Annual Sonot Kkaazoot is in the books. Thanks to Bad Bob Baker and Jeff Skeels, who watched the Sonot Kkaazoot trail wash away but were not deterred. Thanks to Bad Bob for not sleeping but making sure that the course would be safe for us all. Thanks to Jeff who made us a trail on the Fort Wainwright bunny hill. Thanks to Tom Helmers and Ken Coe who groomed day and night to make all the Birch Hill trails and the river absolutely perfect.
Thanks to all the volunteers who allowed the Sonot Kkaazoot to take place. You are the real heroes of the day!
Photo of the 2015 start by Chris Hemming
Banner photo courtesy of Retrospection Image.
Fast snow conditions led to fast times in the 2015 Sonot Kkaazoot.
Rebecca Konieczny set a new record time for the Women’s 50 km freestyle Sonot Kkaazoot. Her time 2:23:40.6 took of 7:32 off the previous record finish time held by Melissa Lewis from 2005. In addition, the Sonot Connector was added to the Sonot Kkaazoot course in 2012, so Rebecca skied a couple of km further than the old “50 km” course when skiers accessed Birch Hill Recreation Area via the Fort Wainwright alpine hill.
Likewise, Peter Leonard, also improved upon the previous record time for the Men’s 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot set in 2005 by Marius Korthauer. Pete’s time of 45:56.3 bettered the Men’s record time by about 58 seconds.
All items found on the Sonot Kkaazoot race course have been collected and taken to the “lost and found” area in the main building at the Birch Hill Recreation Area. Please retrieve your items before 3 April 2015 when the building will close for the season.
Congratulations to Jack Novak of Alaska Pacific University who won the 50 km FS race in 2:12.10 today, followed by Kenny Brewer of UAF in 2:15.09, and Max Donaldson of West Valley High School in 2:15.12.7
The women’s 50 km race was won for the second consecutive time by FXC coach Rebecca Konieczny in 2:23.40, a new record time surpassing the record that six-time Sonot Kkaazoot winner, Melissa Lewis held for 10 years. Melissa followed Becca in 2:38.17, and Sarah Freistone in 2:47.15.
In the 20 km men’s race, FXC coach Peter Leonard won in 45:56.2 over Ti Donaldson (a U16) in 45.56.9 and Ben Koenig (U18) in 45:57.7. Pete also set a new 20 km record for men, bettering the 10 year record held by Marius Korthauer.
In the 20 km women’s race, Jenna DiFolco (U16) won for the second year in a row with a time of 52:43.5, followed by Kaya Ratzlaff in 55:05.6 (U12), and Aasne Hoveid (U20) in 56:57.7.
As of 7 a.m Saturday, the Kilometers signs are out, and we are still planning to have the Sonot on the river.
At 4:30 p.m. Friday, the Fort Wainwright (FWW) alpine hill melted so rapidly that a very large and fast RIVER of water came gushing down the slope taking most of the SONOT course out with it. Bad Bob and Jeff, the Fort Wainwright groomer, watched this phenomenon take place. Jeff said that he would reroute around it and put the SONOT course up and down the bunny hill. There is some water at the base of the hill but skiers should be able to ski around or through it.
Update from Tom Helmers, head groomer for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks (NSCF) at 4:00 a.m. Saturday. Creek on FWW down hill is still flowing, The cat tail pond as you leave ski area parking lot has some water in it but not a problem yet. There is water at top of Sonot Connector just below road half way across trail, at gate pretty wet all the way to white bear. Was 29 deg at base of hill and 36 here at the stadium, heading out for second lap on WB.
Bad Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot Chief of Course, has been out on the river daily keeping an eye on the river ice thickness. Skiers must make sure that they STAY ON THE COURSE indicated by painted lines on the snow/ice and bright orange directional signs:
As of Thursday night, the ice thickness was greater than 12″ if you stay on the trail. This means no passing under the Graehl Street Bridge on Fort Wainwright:
Bad Bob will be out again Friday night to set up km markers and again very early on Saturday morning before the groomers do their last pass on the river section. So the final decision on the Sonot Kkaazoot start location will be made SATURDAY MORNING.
Photos by Bill Husby
Twelve hardy volunteers put in just over 30+ combined hours of backbreaking shoveling to make nice snow paths under four bridges that the Sonot will pass under. Anyone who feels left out of the fun can grab their sleds and shovels to add more snow over the next several days.
CAUTION: The trail under Ft. Wainwright vehicle bridge is well marked with stakes. DO NOT go outside them. The ice is missing or very thin, and the water is deep and swift. Wednesday night’s volunteers hauled snow from as far away as 200 – 300 meters from this potentially dangerous area. Again, DO NOT GO OUTSIDE MARKING STAKES.
Wednesday Night’s Awesome Dozen were: Dermot Cole, Steve Smith, Bill Chedister, Bruce Jamieson, Chris Puchner, Owen Hanley, Mike Ruckhaus, Steve Clautice, Caleb Richardson, Mike Kramer, Donovan Granger and Bill Husby.