Rumor is, the Great Ski Race trail between Tahoe City and Truckee is in bad shape due to a lack of snow. And that couldn't be more untrue, said longtime race director Doug Read."There are a lot of people questioning how the course looks. It looks great. It's surprising to me how good the snow looks on the Truckee side," Read said. "There are only six or seven bare spots we have to work with. Normally we have more than that. So our team of groomers and shovelers can easily patch up the trail, and we're going to have a really nice course this year."The annual fundraising race - one of the largest cross-country races west of the Mississippi - is set to return Sunday for the 36th year.It begins at the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City at 9 a.m. and finishes 30 kilometers later at the Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar in Truckee, where a festive party greets the hundreds of participants. The wooded trail features 1,200 feet of uphill and 1,800 of downhill. Read said he expects between 800 and 900 people to take part, although he hopes to see even more a year after the race was canceled for only the second time in its history because of low snow conditions."We're going to have some good racers, and we want to get as many people from town here locally as we can, because we think we're going to have a really good event - and of course a great party at the finish," Read said.Read advised those who haven't registered to do so online before midnight Thursday, if possible, to ensure a cheaper entry fee. Online registration is $65 before then. After Thursday night, however, participants must register in person at Tahoe Cross Country (still for $65), while on-site registration on race day goes up to $100. The event serves as the main fundraiser for the nonprofit, all-volunteer Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue Team, with proceeds used to purchase equipment and support winter survival and avalanche-education programs.While it always draws a handful of elite Nordic ski racers, the majority of people participate simply to have a good time and support Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue. Some even dress up for the occasion. The current record time is 1 hour, 7 minutes, although most finish in several hours.