The 28th running of the Tustumena 200 sled dog race came to a close Monday morning when the final musher crossed the finish line in Kasilof.
Bill Piccolo finished at 7:41 a.m. Monday, earning him the Red Lantern moniker for being the final competitor to complete the race.
The race was won Sunday at 3:56 p.m. by veteran musher Cim Smyth, a Big Lake musher who had won the race twice before. He narrowly edged out Denali’s Jeff King, a three-time champ, who finished at 4:03 that afternoon.
Chatanika’s Dan Kaduce and Kasilof’s Colleen Robertia took the third and fourth place slots with 5:15 and 7 p.m. finishes, respectively. At 7:45 p.m., Kasilof’s Paul Gebhardt rounded out the top-five who received part of the purse.
The 200-mile race started at 11 a.m. Saturday in Kasilof. Mushers traveled south to Homer for a two-hour rest, looped through the Caribou Hills with a six-hour stop at Freddie’s Roadhouse, and returned to the Homer checkpoint at McNeil Canyon Elementary School for a second two-hour layover before pushing home to Mile 112 of the Sterling Highway.
That route was a new one. Before the event, Race Director Tami Murray said the new route was designed in part to take mushers back to Homer, where the race had originally traveled in the 1980s.
Mushers who had seen the trail before said they enjoyed the new route.
“It was a lot of fun,” King said.
The weather also cooperated, hovering around zero degrees Sunday.
“It was beautiful today,” Smyth said.
Smyth and King weren’t the only mushers who raced to the finish.
Gebhardt and Yukoner Didier Moggia finished 15 minutes apart, with Moggia taking sixth place at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Of 20 entrants, 11 finished the 2012 race.
Chatanika’s Jodi Bailey crossed the finish line at 8:38 p.m. Sunday, good enough for seventh place. Anna Berington, of Kasilof, took eighth, at 9:57. Jane Adkins and Sarah Stokey finished in ninth and tenth places, respectively. Adkins, from Kasilof, finished at 2:23 a.m. Monday, while Stokey, of Seward, followed her in at 2:59 that morning.
Among those who scratched were former champion Dee Dee Jonrowe, former junior racer Rebekah Ruzicka, Kasilof musher Bruce Linton, and others.
The junior race was won by Sterling’s Conway Seavey, who finished in 3 hours 56 minutes, just beating Benjamin Lyon, another Sterling youth, who placed second with at time of 3 hours 59 minutes. The other musher to finish was Palakiya Rogers, who took 8 hours and 19 minutes to complete the race.
Information on the race’s other awards, including the Humanitarian Award and Sportsmanship Award, was not available at press time Monday night.
Molly Dischner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.