Public Media for Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As the first K300 mushers return to Kalskag or pass through, a clearer picture of the race develops

Ryan Redington was the first musher to return to Kalskag. Jan. 27, 2024.
Will Peterson
Ryan Redington was the first musher to return to Kalskag. Jan. 27, 2024.

With a team outfitted in matching highlighter-green, defending Iditarod champ Ryan Redington was the first Kuskokwim 300 (K300) Sled Dog Race musher back to Kalskag on Jan. 27, arriving at the checkpoint at 5:19 p.m. with three hours of rest left to take out of the required six hours mushers split up between Aniak and Kalskag. That remaining compulsory rest underscored a different race strategy than local musher and defending K300 champion Pete Kaiser or the 2019 K300 champ Matt Failor, who surged to the front of the race for the critical run downriver to Tuluksak.

Kaiser and Failor both reached the inbound Kalskag checkpoint a full two hours after Redington, but had already completed their mandatory six hours of rest spread between the middle three checkpoints of the K300 course. Kaiser and Failor left for the final checkpoint of the race, Tuluksak, just minutes after reaching Kalskag. Kaiser ran a full string of 12 dogs, while Failor ran with nine.

With all their discretionary rest complete, less than 20 minutes separate the front three racers for the run downriver to Tuluksak. Kaiser left two minutes in front of Failor, while Travis Beals was next out at 7:50 p.m. with nine dogs and a 16-minute gap to make up on Failor.

Kwethluk musher Jason Pavila was fourth to leave Kalskag, heading for Tuluksak at 8:16 p.m. with 9 dogs in harness.

Redington left Kalskag at 8:23 p.m. in fifth place with seven dogs.

As of 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, 12 of the 23 teams had checked in to Kalskag inbound. Nine of those teams had also checked back out on the trail to Tuluksak.

Before reaching the inbound Kalskag checkpoint, Akiachak musher John Snyder scratched from the race, saying that his dogs were frostbitten. Raymond Alexie scratched later that night. Josh McNeal of Ester also scratched due to a musher injury.

All racers will spend a mandatory four-hour rest period in Tuluksak before the final 50-mile push to the finish line in Bethel. A 2024 K300 winner is expected early on Jan. 28. A finish around 8:30 a.m. could match Matt Failor’s 2019 record for the full Kuskokwim 300 race route.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.