Armin Johnson and the his team take off down the trail during the 10-dog race at the Babe Southwick Memorial Race on Feb. 11. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Cold weather hampers Babe Southwick Memorial Race

‘It was nice to see people out there because we didn’t expect as many volunteers to show up’

The Babe Southwick Memorial Race happened at the Ibex Valley Tracks over the weekend despite some cold weather.

Hosted by the Yukon Dog Mushers Association and originally scheduled for Feb. 10 and 11, the race turned into a one-day event after cold temperatures throughout the day on Saturday meant organizers had to cancel the day’s races.

Mandy Johnson of the YDMA said it was cold all weekend, but the decision was made to hold races on Sunday because of some special guests set to attend.

“It was quite cold on Sunday, but we already had it organized for Babe Southwick’s daughter Glenna and Glenna’s son Eric to come down,” said Johnson.

The two presented the awards following the race and the YDMA in turn presented the pair with a signed photo of Babe, as well as her number eight bib.

The fields in all the races were small — the biggest category only had three mushers — but there was still a surprising number of people at the race thanks to a big turnout from volunteers.

“We had lots of volunteers,” said Johnson. “It was nice to see people out there because we didn’t expect as many volunteers to show up.”

Johnson said a few more teams were expected for the race but cancelled because of the cold.

“Probably more like for the musher than the dogs,” said Johnson. “Really all the dogs that did race, did really well.”

This year’s race happened earlier than years past as organizers hoped to attract teams on their way to the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous.

Johnson said the goal is to keep the race going and hopefully see it become a core part of the Sourdough Rendezvous again.

“I’ve been racing dogs my whole life up here and to me, the dog sled races were Rendezvous — they were a big part of it,” said Johnson. “[YDMA has] been running as an affiliate to keep it going, and we’re hoping one day to be back in Rendezvous.”

Johnson said that with continued support, it’s a real possibility.

“If we just keep plugging ahead with this, and with the Southwicks’ support, we can keep our history going.”

There were five races in total, followed by a children’s sprint.

In the 10-dog 13-mile race, Armin Johnson beat Steve Gibbons by just over 15 minutes.

Armin then went on to race again in the six-dog eight-mile race against his wife Mandy, where he lost by two and a half minutes.

Virginia Sarrazin won the two-dog eight-mile skijoring race, beating Bob Sagar and Lindsay Caskenette.

In the four-dog five-mile recreational race, Mandy Johnson bested Mikayla Power and Amanda Walker for another win.

Sarrazin also took to the trail again for a five-mile run, finishing with a time just under 25 minutes.

Bode Johnson was the fastest musher in the kids race.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at


10 dog sled — 13 miles

1 Armin Johnson 44:39

2 Steve Gibbons 1:00:20

Six dogs sled Eight miles

1 Mandy Johnson 24:47

2 Armin Johnson 27:10

Two dogs skijoring Eight miles:

1 Virginia Sarrazin 28:46

2 Bob Sagar 36:20

3 Lindsay Caskenette 48:07

Four dogs sled Five miles

1 Mandy Johnson 18:00

2 Mikayla Power 21:00

3 Amanda Walker 24:24

Two dogs skijoring Five miles

1 Virginia Sarrazin 24:55


1 Bode Johnson

2 Kassidy Power

3 Elan Johnson

4 Evander Jerome

5 Aniston Jerome

6 Heidi Johnson

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