ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A qualifying race for Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has been canceled due to warm weather, the second mid-distance Iditarod qualifier to be called off.
Race officials called off the Tustumena 200 sled dog race on the Kenai Peninsula on Friday.
A run of mild weather and rain wiped out much of the snow in south-central Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1cftNMp). Earlier this week, the Northern Lights 300 at Big Lake was also canceled.
The high temperature Friday in Anchorage reached the upper 40s, according to the National Weather Service.
Race director Tami Murray says the forecast forced their decision on the race, which usually runs from Clam Gulch to Homer and back.
"We just don't have the snow and way too much water in the hills to put together a quality race," Murray said in an email. "We've looked at all possible options and with the 10-day forecast (trust me we've looked at them all) we feel this is the right decision."
Reigning Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey topped the field signed up for the Tustumena.
Other events, including a high school cross-country ski race and a fat-tire bike series, were canceled.
The Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage thought it had saved the high school race by moving it from Kincaid Park to higher elevations, but found water there, too.
Dubbed the Slush Cup, the race was canceled after a course inspection by the ski club's John Christopherson. At 10 a.m. Friday, the temperature was 48 degrees and the wind was howling, he said.
"I feel that we cannot guarantee a safe race for 400-500 skiers," Christopherson said. "We can't fight the weather. So let's admit the conditions and find something else besides skiing for this weekend."
Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com