54th Annual Nome Golovin Race Won’t Take Place In Part Because of COVID-19

Starting line at the 2017 Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race, on the sea ice in front of Nome, Alaska.

This year’s Nome-Golovin 200-mile snowmachine race has officially been cancelled. Following a couple attempts to reschedule the event after a weather delay two weeks ago [March 14th], race staff made the announcement to cancel on Saturday.

In Saturday’s announcement, a reason was not given for why Nome’s annual snowmachine race won’t take place this year. But race director Kevin Bahnke said via phone that some extra considerations were taken into account by the organization.

“It was a group decision with everything that’s happening with the epidemic (coronavirus). The group decided they wanted to do their part also with holding back on events.”

According to Bahnke the Nome Golovin has been cancelled outright in the past due to poor trail conditions or weather, but never because of something like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 200-mile race was originally scheduled for March 14th, but due to poor visibility and snowy weather conditions, race staff made the decision to push the event back 24 hours. However, the following day brought more of the same weather so the 2020 Nome-Golovin was supposed to be postponed until March 28th, this coming Saturday.

According to a statement from race staff, since this year’s snowmachine race won’t happen at all, each of the approximately 30 racers will be refunded their entry fees. With low racer turnout at this year’s signups, only a couple of women had originally expressed interest in competing this year, so there were not enough female racers to even have a women’s class this year.

The Nome-Golovin also plans to give the donated fuel it received from Bonanza and Q-trucking for the race to White Mountain and Golovin’s search and rescue teams.

Image at top: Starting line at the 2017 Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race, on the sea ice in front of Nome. Photo from KNOM archives, 2017.