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The next Susitna 100 and Little Su 50K will be held February 15-17, 2014.
No races will be held in 2013.
The information contained on this page may be of general or historical interest. We anticipate changes to content as plans for the 2014 races are finalized. We look forward to seeing you in 2014.
Susitna 100 Course
All distances are approximate. Some are rounded up, some are rounded down. The total distance is very close to 100 miles. GPS waypoints for the checkpoints are now posted at the end of the course description.
General Description See Su 100 Maps
The current 100-mile course has evolved through changes in availability of checkpoint locations. Attached to this document is a link to a map that depicts the Susitna 100 course. The rivers and lakes that are named in this description can be oriented to the U.S. Geological Survey's Tyonek Quadrangle, should the truly curious want a clearer picture of what the course looks like in, say, mid-July. In February, however, this country is reduced to two colors, white and green, and is typically framed by a blue sky. Thanks to drifting snow, the region's shallow topography is barely distinguishable. This classic rendering of winter in simple colors and contours is marred only the intrusion of four-foot wide snow machine trails that run for miles across lakes and rivers and through breaks in the tree line. You are grateful for these trails, because they provide the foundation that makes human-powered travel faster than would otherwise be possible.
1. Getting to the Starting Line
When you are training in this area, please stop and patronize our friends at the Point Mackenzie General Store. They have convenience store items and serve hot meals in their restaurant.
The Susitna 100 starts at 9:00 a.m.
You need to check-in and declare your division by 8:45.
All Susitna 100 racers are required to check in at least 15 minutes before the start and declare a division. If some of your equipment did not pass inspection at the pre-race meeting, it will be checked after the 9:00 start.
2. Point Mackenzie General Store to Nome Sign (12 miles )
All of the roads, trails and seismic lines described below are clearly shown on the Big Lake and Pt. MacKenzie Road & Recreation Map published by Todd Communications. This map is available anywhere sporting goods are sold in Anchorage.
The race leaves the general store parking lot and immediately joins the powerline right of way heading due West. In one-half mile, the race crosses the Ayrshire/Point Mackenzie intersection and runs parallel to Ayrshire Road for three miles on the South side. The race course is off the road, but in the road right of way. Do not travel on the road! We do not have permits or insurance that allow travel on the road. You will be disqualified if you run, ski or ride on the road no amount of charm or pity will reverse this. Do not travel on the road. This also applies to the return.
After two miles of paralleling Ayrshire Road, the course crosses Guernsey Road. You will know this when you smell the odor of natural gas. Continue paralleling Ayrshire Road on the South side for one more mile where the course crosses the snowmobile trail that is the extension of Ayrshire Road. You are now on the Little Su Access Road. This road is not used by cars and trucks in the winter, so you may now use the road. Or, you may follow race lath on a parallel track that will be more suitable for skiers.
At approximate mile 6, the course meets the Little Susitna River at the boat launch site. Cross the frozen river to a trail directly across from the boat launch. This trail goes in a North Northeasterly direction for about one mile and then joins a seismic line heading West Northwest. One mile further, just after entering a large swamp, the course changes to another seismic line heading North Northwest. At mile 8, the course intersects the Iditarod Trail and turns left to join it.
One mile later, at mile 9, you arrive at the Nome Sign.
Turn left at the Nome Sign and meander through a series of interconnected swamps for about 5 miles.
After winding through these swamps, the course makes a sharp right onto another seismic line and follows this line for 4 miles and then drops sharply onto an arm of Flat Horn Lake. Take a left and follow this arm for about 1 mile to the main body of Flat Horn Lake. Make a sweeping right hand turn to follow the shoreline of the lake, taking care to stay off of the marked runways in this area. About 1/2 mile up the shoreline you will find the Flat Horn Lake checkpoint, home of long-time race supporters Kirk and Peggy Garoutte. Please respect their property and relieve yourself only in the outhouse (ask for directions.)
Leaving the checkpoint, the course continues across Flat Horn Lake in a northwesterly direction. Two miles later, at the north end of the lake, the course parallels a meandering inlet creek. Follow the trail markers and stay off of the creek. After about 1/2 mile of travel through the woods, the trail opens up onto "The Dismal Swamp."
The Dismal Swamp is about 3 miles long and is appropriately named. Only the occasional scrawny black spruce tree belies the impression that you are on a lake. With the wind blowing hard from the North, as is tradition, this can be a brutal and disheartening section. Otherwise, this three miles is simply boring.
At the north end of the swamp, the trail takes you out of the wind and back into the forest for about 1.5 miles to the main Susitna River. Descend the Wall of Death onto the main channel of the Susitna River (locally called the Big Su).
5. Wall of Death to the Yentna River (5 miles)
Once you are on the Susitna River, head to the right (upstream). There will be many snowmobile trails here, so pay close attention to the Su 100 markers. About four miles upstream from the Wall of Death, the route will turn left onto the Yentna River. Locally, this is called Scary Tree (the tree fell down several years ago.) From here, the trail joins the LSDA trail from Deshka Landing to Skwentna.
6. Yentna River to Luce's Lodge (7.5 miles)
Once again, there will be many trails on the Yentna River. We will mark the firmest trail. This is usually the trail marked and groomed by Dave Luce. It is marked with green topped lath with "LSDA" on both sides. But please pay close attention and follow the Su 100 lath on the river in case we re-route the trail to avoid open water and overflow.
Luce's Lodge is on the right bank outbound. Look for a billboard size sign and a bright light. The side trail to Luce's is short and steep. Please use the heated and lighted outhouse behind the lodge. Food and drink are for sale at Luce's. Water and sympathy are free.
7. Luce's Lodge to Alexander Lake (12 miles)
The trail leaving Luce's Lodge is the same one you came up on until you are back on the Yentna River. On the river, turn right and continue upstream on the marked route. This will not be the most heavily travelled trail on the river. About two miles from Luce's, the trail goes left of an island. In one more mile the route leaves the river and ascends the West bank. The trail goes uphill through a wooded area for about a mile and then opens up onto a series of interconnected swamps for about 8 miles to Alexander Lake. Our checkpoint will be at the South end of the lake next to a small private cabin that we have rented. We will be using a tent for the racer checkpoint and the cabin for checker warm up and emergencies. You may rest or sleep in the tent, but it may be crowded at times. We will only have water available at this checkpoint.
8. Alexander Lake to Flat Horn Lake (31 miles)
The return route is the same as the outbound route until you leave Flat Horn Lake. You are required to check in and check out of Luce's Lodge and Flat Horn on the return. The route should be familiar to you, but there is one point of particular concern. Most of the snowmobile traffic travelling south on the Yentna River is headed for Deshka Landing near Willow, Alaska. You are headed for Point MacKenzie, so you must turn right at Scary Tree on the less obvious, but marked trail. This is the point where Rich Crain has directed traffic for several years. Before that, many racers got lost in this area and headed for Deshka Landing. There will not be anyone directing traffic this year, so be alert in this area.
Advice on Traveling the Yentna River
At night, you will generally be alone except for other racers and race support. You are strongly discouraged from sleeping on the Yentna or Susitna Rivers. Not only is it much colder than other sections of the trail, but snow machines travel very fast along these rivers and may not see you. Keep a close eye for race markers.
The markers will keep you near the firmest trail and away from the occasional open water. More importantly, trail markers will show you the fastest route to the Susitna River. The Yentna is 1/2 mile wide and the Susitna River is up to a mile wide.
At the confluence of these rivers, there are many islands and sloughs, which can be confusing.
Once you reach the Wall of Death on the Big Su's left bank, you will retrace the route back to the Flat Horn Lake checkpoint.
When you leave the Flat Horn Lake Checkpoint, you will be headed for the far Southern shore of the lake. This is not the way you came from the Nome Sign. Carefully follow the race markings and paper plate directions to ensure you return using the new route. The inbound route is 7 miles shorter than the outbound route. Near the lake outlet, ascend a short steep bank to begin 5 miles of seismic line with beautiful daytime views of the Chugach Mountains. After 5 miles, the route joins another seismic line that will eventually become Ayrshire Road. The only deviation from this seismic line is the descent to and ascent from the Little Susitna River crossing. Again, do not travel on the plowed portion of Ayrshire Road no matter how tempting. When you smell the natural gas, you are two miles from the finish. Congratulations! Be sure to check in with the race official (wake her if necessary.)
Start/Finish 61 deg. 25' 29"N 150 deg. 00' 32"W
Flat Horn Lake 61 deg. 28' 01"N 150 deg. 24'47"W
Luce's Lodge 61 deg. 40'41"N 150 deg. 37'26"W
Alexander Lake 61 deg. 43' 55"N 150 deg. 52'56"W