Thursday, September 14, 2023

Willow 300 board of directors implodes

The headline may be a bit of hyperbole, but the fact is that as of tonight - September 13, 2023 - there has been a massive upheaval with the board of directors of the Willow 300 sled dog race. Several members of the board and volunteer staff posted on the race's Facebook Page announcing their departure, as well as the departure of main sponsor and race host Sheep Creek Lodge. The announcement created a slurry of comments by fans and mushers, many of whom seemed to be taken completely off guard by the announcement.

"The current board of the Willow 300 Sled Dog Race 2023 is not going in the direction that aligns with our moral and values," the Facebook announcement stated. "Therefore Secretary Karin Hendrickson, Member at Large Melinda Crawford, Sponsorship and Volunteer Coordinator Catrina Mathis, membership Coordinator Marianne Schoppmeyer, and Member at Large Julia DeLoach all resign. Sheep Creek Lodge also withdraws all support as race headquarters and finish."

Karin Hendrickson, retired Iditarod musher and (now) former board secretary quickly took to her personal Facebook page to share the race's post stating that if any mushers had questions they could message her. Several mushers commented on the posts with concern and sadness as the Willow 300 in a well loved race by many in the sport.

Known for its well marked trails and strong purse. The Willow 300 came about in 2016 to fill the void left by several long time mid-distance races ending. The Willow 300 managed to run even in poor snow years that saw other races in its general area cancel or move. Sheep Creek Lodge provided logistics for the race as well as a finish line and housing for handlers. Now all of that seems to be over in less than ten years, and it's left fans and participants wondering why.

This is a developing story.

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