It may be cold outside, but part of being an Alaskan is learning to enjoy winter to the fullest.
This weekend's festivities at the annual Peninsula Winter Games gives us the opportunity to do just that.
Among the activities is the 24th running of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race, which starts in Kasilof and winds through the Caribou Hills for two days.
We are fortunate to have a race of this caliber in our own back yard. The Iditarod-qualifying run brings many talented mushers to our neighborhood to stretch out their legs for the big one in March.
Having notables Mitch Seavey, Lance Mackey and Joe Runyon join the race garners attention, and late-joiner Sigrid Ekran of Norway should be watched, as well. Ekran was last year's Iditarod Rookie of the Year and nearly won the Copper Basin 300 earlier this month before taking a wrong turn near the end and finishing fourth.
In all there are 25 mushers in the 200-mile race, including locals Colleen Robertia, Jon Little and Bruce Linton of Kasilof, Seavey and Sam Deltour of Sterling and Bill Steyer of Homer. Running in the 100-mile race are Jane Faulkner of Soldotna, Kristy Berington, Josh Hudson, Tobi Hansen and Tyler Cameron of Kasilof and Jack Berry of Homer. Four of the six mushers racing in the Junior T, or 50-mile, race are from the Kenai Peninsula Fawn Wilson of Sterling, Rebekah Ruzicka of Anchor Point, Merissa Osmar of Clam Gulch and Travis Beals of Seward.
If you've never been to the race start, here's your chance to step up to the line and cheer on those who have the courage to face the wilderness, the cold and darkness with only their dogs and the moonlight as company. It all begins at the Tustumena Lodge at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mile 111 of the Sterling Highway in Kasilof.
Other events scheduled this weekend include:
* The Amazing Race to Achieve, sponsored by Junior Achievement. "It's basically a scavenger hunt and a spoof off of the show 'The Amazing Race,'" said Robyn Sullens, Junior Achievement board member. Races begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
* Hockey tournaments are from 1:45 to 10:15 p.m. today and 7:30 to 9:45 a.m. and 1 to 10:15 p.m. Saturday at the sports center.
* The Native Youth Olympics begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at Kenai Middle School and continue through Sunday.
* The Jon Wackler Memorial Snowshoe Softball Tournament is at 10 a.m. Saturday at Gerke Field in Soldotna.
* The Kids Carnival is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the sports center.
* Fireworks and a bonfire are at 8 p.m. Saturday at the sports center.
* Youth cross-country ski races are at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Tsalteshi Ski Trails.
If you want to know more, go online to peninsulawintergames.com.
In another note, we understand the Kasilof Mercantile is holding a spaghetti-eating contest Saturday at 4 p.m. The reigning spaghetti king is none other than Clarion reporter Joseph Robertia. Joseph's wife, Colleen, will be busy running the T-200, while he attempts to retain his crown.
No matter what role you play in the activities this weekend spectator, musher, competitor, volunteer or food-title seeker we hope you'll get out and enjoy the weekend festivities that many Alaskans have come to know and appreciate. Besides, it will be breakup before you know it.
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