Kenai Peninsula cross-country skiers looking for a race to cap a season of training should have no problem finding one March 11.
And potential racers should have a similarly easy time putting in a week of training before a race, according to positive reports from groomers across the peninsula.
The Ski for Habitat Community Race race will be held March 11 at Tsalteshi Trails, while the Kachemak Bay Ski Marathon will take place at Homer's Baycrest trails on the same date.
The Ski for Habitat race costs $12 to enter. There are a variety of racing options, including five-kilometer freestyle, 15-kilometer skate, 10-kilometer classic, 25-kilometer combination skate/classic and 25-kilometer partner ski.
There also is pledge skiing and sledding available, and dog sled rides will be given from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"We split what we make with Habitat for Humanity," said Penny McClain, chair of the Tsalteshi Trail Association.
For more information about the race, call McClain at 262-6257, Tom Seggerman at 262-3189 or Susan Hatch at 283-5122.
The Kachemak Bay Ski Marathon will offer races of two, five, 10, 21 and 42 kilometers. For those under 12 or over 55 years old, the cost is $5. Other skiers will pay $25.
"It's a major fund-raiser for our trail system," said Dave Brann, vice president of the Kachemak Bay Nordic Ski Club.
The race includes activities for kids, including dog sled rides, and there will be an evening buffet at Land's End Resort.
For more information, contact Kenton Bloom at 235-6600.
Training for those races should be easy due to the condition of the ski trails on the peninsula.
At Tsalteshi Trails, which are located behind Skyview High School, McClain said early week grooming has things looking solid.
"They seem to be in pretty good shape," McClain said. "I know they were groomed Monday, and (the groomers) worked pretty hard to get them in good shape."
Tsalteshi, which also has classic tracks, has an outer loop that measures just over seven kilometers, and has 15 total kilometers of trail. The trails are of all difficulties.
Across the Sterling Highway at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Brenda Wise, refuge clerk, said there has been little change at the trails over the past week.
Last week, six miles of trails were groomed for classic skiing, and the trails were reported to be hard and icy in places.
At the Kenai Golf Course, Bob Frates, director of Kenai's Parks and Recreation Department, said a five-kilometer skate loop should be in good condition for the weekend.
"The last time we groomed it was Monday, but we're going to hit it again (Friday) to get it ready for the weekend," Frates said. "The conditions should be pretty good out there."
At the Nikiski Community Trails, Dale Bakk, who grooms the trails behind the high school, said five kilometers of skating is available.
"I groomed the school trails (Wednesday)," Bakk said. "We haven't had anybody drive snowmachines on them in the last week or so, so they should be fine."
The Nikiski Community Trails are five kilometers of moderately difficult skiing with some steep hills. There are no classic tracks set.
Bakk also is expecting a good weekend at the trails behind the Nikiski pool.
"I was just on my way out the door to groom them," Bakk said Thursday afternoon. "I'm going to groom them for skating and classic."
The pool trails offer three kilometers of flat skiing.
In Homer, Baycrest and McNeil Canyon have been dressed up perfectly by regular but light snowfall this week.
"The trails at Baycrest are in very good shape," Brann said. "They are being groomed on a daily basis in preparation for the marathon coming up."
Baycrest offers 30 kilometers of skating trails, and should have 15 to 20 kilometers of classic tracks by the weekend. The trails, located down Roger's Loop in Homer, are of all difficulties.
McNeil Canyon Ski Trails, located 12 miles out East End Road, have 7.5 kilometers available for skating. The trails are moderately difficult, and the longest loop offers some swift ups and downs.
Finally, Rich Houghton, coach of the ski team in Seward, said Exit Glacier Road, which is flat and nine miles one way, is the only place ready for skating.
Mile 12, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, and Glacier Creek are suitable for touring.
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