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Bogus Creek 150 will race this weekend over what could be a slow, snowy trail

Sled dogs prepare to compete in the Bogus Creek 150 Sled Dog race.
Katie Basile
Sled dogs prepare to compete in the Bogus Creek 150 Sled Dog race.

The Bogus Creek 150 Sled Dog Race begins this weekend. A competitive field of mushers have signed up to race over what could be a slow, snowy trail from Bethel to Bogus Creek and back. Here's what to expect from the race this weekend, and how you can keep track of the action.

The race will begin earlier than originally planned. The new start time is 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19. It was previously set to begin in the afternoon at 3 p.m. However, with rain and warm temperatures forecast for Sunday, Feb. 20, the organizers moved up the race. They hope most mushers can finish before the worst of the weather settles in.

The roster is stacked with names familiar to the Kuskokwim mushing community. Nearly all 12 mushers have run this race before. Five of them are past champions, one-time winners Herman Phillip of Kwethluk, Fr. Alexander Larson of Napaskiak, Matt Scott of Bethel, and Pete Kaiser of Bethel. Kaiser has also won the Kuskokwim 300 six times and the Iditarod. Also racing is two-time Bogus winner Jackie Larson of Napaskiak.

“It’s going to be a really competitive race,” K300 Race Manager Paul Basile said.

He pointed out that Jackie Larson is on a winning streak this season. He took first place in the roughly 65-mile Akiak Dash last month, and first in the February 50 last weekend. Both those races are shorter, faster sprint races, compared to the longer Bogus Creek, and they require different race styles. But Larson has proven he can do both. Also coming off a big win is Pete Kaiser, who took his sixth K300 title last month and is preparing to race the Iditarod in a couple weeks.

The Bogus is racing on a separate weekend from both the Akiak Dash and Kuskokwim 300 to prevent crowding during the pandemic. This is the second year in a row organizers have separated the Bogus from these other races. Basile said that the change has come with benefits.

“We discovered that people really liked having the race separate. There turned out to be way more teams in the Bogus Creek 150 than we’d had in a long time, and having the race separately a couple weeks apart from the K300 put a little more spotlight on the Bogus Creek 150,” he said.

Basile says that with the Bogus Creek’s $60,000 purse, perhaps the race deserves its own spotlight. That’s a high payout per mile compared to other races in the state.

With mushers not having to choose between races as much, more are competing in this year’s Bogus Creek compared to recent years. Nearly all the registered mushers also competed last month in either the Akiak Dash or Kuskokwim 300.

The Bogus was originally scheduled to occur before those races, but was postponed a month due to weather causing poor training conditions. At the time, the trail was hard and icy. Basile expects the opposite this weekend.

“We’re looking at potentially having a lot of snow and a pretty soft trail,” he said.

Recent heavy snow has covered the trail, and more is forecast to fall during the race. That could lead to a slow competition, exacerbated by warming temperatures that could cause rain for the Sunday finish.

Race organizers are rerouting the Bogus Creek 150 race trail. Race Manager Paul Basile says a combination of overflow and heavy snow makes the traditional route impassible. The race will not go past Tuluksak, and it will not go to Bogus Creek. Basile says there is too much overflow on the Tuluksak River and on both Little Bogus Creek and Big Bogus Creek. He also says there is about four feet of snow at the usual Bogus Creek checkpoint. As of Friday afternoon, race organizers were deciding a different route, which they expect will follow the Kuskokwim River.

All mushers, handlers, race officials, and volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in this weekend’s race.

Tune into KYUK 640 AM for live coverage of the 10 a.m. mass start on Saturday, Feb. 19. Then stay tuned for trail updates throughout the day and for live finish line interviews with the mushers on Sunday, Feb. 20.

Updated: February 18, 2022 at 10:18 AM AKST
A previous version of this story said that Lewis Pavila of Kwethluk was racing the 2022 Bogus Creek 150. Instead, Herman Phillip of Kwethluk will be racing for Bad River Kennel in place of Pavila. Also, Pete Kaiser of Bethel also registered to race the Bogus Creek 150 since this story was first published. The registration deadline was 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 17.

The story has also been updated to reflect that the 2022 Bogus Creek 150 will be following an alternative race route because of extremely snowy conditions.
Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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