FAIRBANKS—The Gin Gin 200, one of Alaska’s first long-distance sled dog races of the year, begins at 6 tonight at the Meiers Lake Roadhouse at 171 Mile Richardson Highway.

Forty-one teams are entered in the race, which actually runs for 207 miles and is a qualifier for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in February and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March. 

The 1,000-mile Quest begins Feb. 7 in Whitehorse Yukon and finishes on the Chena River near the Cushman Street bridge in downtown Fairbanks.

The 1,049-mile Iditarod begins March 7 with a ceremonial start on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, and it finishes on Front Street in Nome.

The Gin Gin course features varied terrain, with the first four miles going from Meiers Valley down to Paxson Lake for a nine-mile stretch across the lake.. 

From there, the teams travel five miles on the Gulkana River to the Denali Highway, heading 68 miles to the Alpine Creek Lodge. There also is a dog drop at the Crazy Dog Kennel at Mile 42 of the highway.

The mushers then do a 35-mile loop from the Alpine Creek Lodge, where they also may  take a 10-hour mandatory layover there.

The course returns from lodge to the Meiers Lake Roadhouse for the finish.

Among the Gin Gin entries are Fairbanks’ Ken Anderson, an Iditarod veteran and runner-up in the 2008 Quest; 1984 Iditraod champion Dean Osmar, of Clam Gulch; and Quest veteran Brent Sass, who also was among the participants in the 2013 debut season of the “Ultimate Survival Alaska,’’ reality series on the National Geographic Channel.

Also this weekend, the Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association is conducting its Solstice 50/100, beginning Saturday morning at the Pleasant Valley Store, 23 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road.

Registration also is available at 9 a.m. Saturday at the store.

According to the association’s Facebook page, at least 11 mushers, including four-time Quest and Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, of Fairbanks, had registered for the 100-mile event.

Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: