2023 Akiak Dash will see 15 mushers face off to become new first-time champion
On Jan. 28, 15 mushers will race the roughly 60-mile 2023 Akiak Dash Sled Dog Race from Bethel to Akiak and back. This year’s race will introduce a new winner to the history books because there are no past champions entered in this year’s race.
Nineteen-year-old Raymond Alexie will seek to extend his perfect 2023 race record in this year’s Akiak Dash. The Kwethluk musher won the Season Opener, the Holiday Classic, and the Bogus Creek 150 two weeks ago. Alexie was the runner up in last year’s race and the highest placing musher from last year.
Defending champion Jackie Larson of Napaskiak is racing the Kuskokwim 300 after winning the Akiak Dash two years in a row. Three of the top five from last year are back. 2022’s third place finisher, Mike Williams Jr., returns for this year’s race, as well as fifth place finisher Darren George.
The noon start on Jan. 28 is two hours earlier than the traditional 2 p.m. start, and there will be no required rest for the dog teams at the turnaround point in Akiak. Teams in past years needed to wait an hour before heading back to Bethel. The forecast calls for a warm afternoon with possible snow and rain.
Five Akiak Dash rookies will be on the runners, including one 14-year-old, Charlie Chingliak, who made the minimum age cut-off. The other rookies are Fred Pavilla, Byron Pasitnak Jr., Kenneth Snyder, and Leondre Demientieff.
The mushers will compete for a share of a $30,000 purse. The winner will take home a check for about $4,700.
The race begins in a mass start at noon on Jan. 28 on the Kuskokwim River in front of Bethel. A winner is expected by late afternoon.
Tune into KYUK 640 AM for live coverage at the start line and for live interviews with the mushers at the finish.