2008 Tustumena 200 Winner Lance Mackey Photo from Tustumena 200 website
Board Gets A New Look
Change is inevitable, as organizers of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race surly realize, while they prepare for the 25th anniversary running of the Kenai Peninsula race.
Several board members and officers have stepped down from their positions after several years of extremely dedicated hard work. When the elections were held this past spring, few volunteered to take their places.
Kasilof resident and Iditarod musher Paul Gebhardt stepped down as race marshal, a position he has held the past two years. According to the Peninsula Clarion, Gephardt said, "It just takes too much time away from my own training and racing. I've been shorting myself, but I'd like to win Iditarod and I'm not getting any younger, so I need to focus on my own dogs."
Another challenge facing race organizers is finding a new major sponsor, as Kenai Chrysler Center pulled out after last season.
However, a new executive director has been hired. Tami Murray, a Sterling resident who has volunteered with the Iditarod, raised funds for local organizations, and worked for more than 25 years as a television producer, takes over.
"I'm very excited about the position. I love the sport of mushing and have always thought the T-200 was a great community race and I wanted to see it keep on going," she said.
Artist and musher Jon Van Zyle is the new race marshal. He brings his experience of racing the Iditarod, as well as serving as a race marshal in numerous other races, to the event.
Race organizers are working with local snowmachiners and riding clubs, plus area dog mushers who regularly ride and train in the area, to utilize their knowledge, time and skills in keeping the trail up to standards.
The 25th anniversary running of the T-200 is scheduled to start on Jan. 24, 2009. Details of the T-100 and Jr. T races are still being worked out.
But despite the challenges – the race will still go on.