Alternative offered for annual ski marathon

Skiers invited to traverse 42-kilometer course all month long

In place of the annual marathon that draws skiers from around the peninsula and state, the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club has opted for a more socially distanced option this year that, while less competitive, still lets people appreciate the extensive Homer area trail system.

The club usually hosts the Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon every year. It was canceled in 2020 due to the growing threat of the novel coronavirus. This year, an event will take place, but it won’t be the traditional one-day event with a mass start. The ski club has unveiled Marathon March, instead.

For the month of march, skiers are invited to traverse a roughly 42-kilometer course that includes the Marathon Connector Trail, which connects the Baycrest Trails system on the west side of Homer to the Lookout Mountain Trails off Ohlson Mountain Road. The 17.9-kilometer backcountry trail is moderately-well groomed, but its use can be unpredictable in regular seasons due to weather.

Throughout March, though, the connector trail will be groomed and maintained to allow skiers to participate in Marathon March. Participants are encouraged to time themselves and self-report to the ski club, said Kenny Daher, a member of the club’s board of directors. Skiers are also welcome to just get outside and enjoy the course.

Since times will be so variable throughout the month due to different weather conditions, there won’t be prizes given out for top finishers, Daher said. However, those who register for the event will be entered to win door prizes. Registration is open now on the ski club’s website at knsc.clubexpress.com.

Those who register will get an email confirmation that includes access to a form to self-report their course times.

The majority of the 42-kilometer course crosses state, Kenai Peninsula Borough and Cook Inlet Regional Corporation-owned lands. There is a portion of the course that goes through private lands, and Daher said the landowners have collaborated with Kachemak Nordic Ski Club to allow access for the month-long event.

This year’s race alternative will allow people to keep their distance while still giving them the taste of Homer’s ski trails Daher said many people have been missing since the last race was canceled.

“It’s really accommodating of social distancing,” he said of Marathon March.

More than that, Daher said the event is an opportunity to recognize and appreciate not only the extensive trail system, but the volunteers who groom and maintain Homer’s ski trails.

“We’re going to kind of make it more of a celebration for the really awesome groomers and this great resource,” he said.

Daher said he hopes participants in Marathon March will take the opportunity to ski a trail that they might not be particularly familiar with. The Marathon Connector Trail has been in place for a few year, but is not reliable or accessible year round, making it slightly more elusive.

“I hope they get a great day of skiing a potentially new trail to them,” Daher said. “… Maybe in that manner, they’re going to see all the great work the groomers have been up to.”

Maintaining Homer’s ski trails is a 100% volunteer operation, Daher said.

He also said he hopes the event will draw more people from outside of Homer to see the area’s winter trails.

For more information about Marathon March, visit the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club’s Facebook page, or email kachemaknordicskiclub@gmail.com with any questions.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.