Friday, December 31, 2021

2022 Knik 200 Race Preview

Happy New Year, race fans! 2022 is just a day away and with that comes the first "major" race of the season! In an almost Christmas Miracle like fashion, the Knik 200 is set to run for the first time in several years. Plagued with both bad weather making trails impossible and then of course pandemics, the Knik 200 was all but considered a dead race. Last year the board disbanded and handed over control to the race's future to the Knik Trail Blazers who were not ready to give up on the sled dog race meant to tribute the Father of the Iditarod. Everyone held their breath throughout December as temps dipped low and snow accumulated (what a roller coaster of temps). Then over Christmas Chinook Winds came in and melted quite a bit of snow, but it wasn't enough to derail the rejuvenated season opener. 

The roster at one point was over 20 teams for the 200 (the 100 also has a healthy roster with well known names), however storms and other issues saw several names withdraw late - but completely understandable. Still, 18 teams plan to hit the trails tomorrow. So let's look at some of the key players in this weekend's race.

Who to Watch

Aaron Burmeister - the runner up in the 2021 Iditarod, Burmeister has announced this is his final competitive season (at least where Iditarod is concerned). Family has always been Aaron's main focus and as his kids get older he wants to be present for all of their accomplishments. Stand up guy, and a great dog man. Burmeister ended his Iditarod run heated and wanting to do more. I expect Aaron to have a solid race season, with the main focus finally bringing that Iditarod win home to Nome. All races/runs will be with that focus in mind (I'm totally guessing as I don't know what his plans really are). 

Dave Turner - Dave has become a name to watch in mid-distance races. His team is fast and he is a quick study. Expect him to make a run for the win here, and don't be surprised if he does. Turner was the final Tustumena 200 champion, but that was a few years ago now, but ever since that win I'm hard pressed to keep him off the "who to watch" lists. Turner has withdrawn from the race. 

Matt Failor - Failor is one of many of his generation of musher on the "upswing". The 2019 Kuskokwim Champion has really come into his own (he freaking ran the Iditarod while hobbling along on a bum hip! WHAT?!) and there's no sign that he is slowing down yet. Expect Matt to be right there in the mix for the win. 

Nicolas Petit - I keep crowning him the king of the mid-distance race, but it really is where Petit's team seems to thrive. I'm more apt to declare him the favorite to win a mid-distance than I am to declare him a shoo-in for a long distance championship. Expect Petit to take the lead early and do everything to keep it. But ALSO expect that he just is entering this for fun and will sit back. One can never be sure which Nic will show up.

Travis Beals - another "young" musher who makes a statement in most races. Beals is also focused on Iditarod and uses races to prepare for the big one. He could easily find himself in the top teams in this race as his team IS a top team.

**Hugh Neff - Neff proved himself last season after running the Summit Quest last year. Having fulfilled his requirements of reinstatement from the Yukon Quest after being suspended for having questionable dog care during the race several years ago, Neff has returned to regularly scheduled programming. I have him as an "honorable mention" because some personal life upheaval had Neff making the move from the interior to south central Alaska and he's now running dogs out of Jim Lanier's kennel. Hugh could be very competitive here, or he could be middle of the pack. Not knowing what the plan is, I didn't want to list him as a shoo-in for a top placement. 

How to Watch

With the restructuring, most of the info has been hard to find. It could be that come race day I'll be on the fly giving info, but here's what we know so far:

Official Website
The race does not have an official website, but they are active on Facebook. Expect most information and updates to be posted there, though it may take a while. 

GPS Tracker
The race WILL have trackers for both the 200 and 100 race, but the link has not been posted by trackleaders yet. You'll find the map with the trackers here.

Social Media
As I said above, they are active on Facebook. The race has not been active on Twitter in years. There's also no Instagram. However, with the Knik Trail Blazers being in charge they may also post to their Facebook. We'll see what we get. It's a reorganizing/rebuilding year, we'll take what we can get. 

Schedule of Events

Friday, December 31, 2021
3:00pm-5:00pm Musher's Dinner and Bib Draw

Saturday, January 1, 2022
8:00am Knik 200 Mandatory Vet Check
10:00am Knik 200 Start
12:00pm Knik 100 Mandatory Vet Check
2:00pm Knik 100 Start

Sunday, January 2, 2022
6:00pm Award Banquet

Which team do you think will win? Who are you cheering for? Comment below!

Edited 12/31/21 to note Dave Turner's withdrawal and adding the link to the trackers.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2022 Knik 200 Musher Roster

It's the final countdown! In just a few days time we will have the mushing season in full swing. While other races have taken place in this very snowy December in Alaska, the Knik 200 has always been the kick off to the "regular season". (Look at those beautiful football analogies applied to dog mushing.) Warm temps and increasingly late snows in the last decade have seen many a Knik 200 be canceled, but it looks like all systems are go for the 2022 race. Last year the race saw a major overhaul to the board and is now under the direction of the Knik Trail Blazers. The new board seems to have a lot of enthusiasm which has trickled down to the teams interested in running. The roster boasts a lot of familiar and top names in the Alaskan mushing community and should provide a very exciting opener for fans to follow along.

Musher Roster

1 Spirit of Joe Redington Sr.
2 Hugh Neff - Facebook / Instagram
3 Eddie Burke - Facebook / Instagram
4 Walter Robinson - Facebook 
5 Anna Berington - Website / Instagram
6 Travis Beals - Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
7 Casey Randall - Website / Facebook / Twitter
8 Kristy Berington - Website / Instagram
9 Braxton Peterson - Website / Facebook / Instagram
10 Katie Timmons - Facebook 
11 Karin Hendrickson - Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
12 Matt Failor - Website / Facebook / Instagram
13 Isaac Teaford - Facebook
14 Hunter Keefe - Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
15 Aaron Burmeister - Facebook
16 Nicolas Petit - Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
17 Lev Shvarts - Website / Facebook 

Who are you cheering for? Comment below!

Edited 12/31/2021 to remove Jeff and KattiJo Deeter from the roster as they withdrew prior to the race.
Edited 12/31/2021 to remove Dave Turner and Dakota Schlosser & to organized based on bib draw.

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