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Bogus Creek 150, rescheduled from January, set to race on Saturday, Feb. 10

Mushers raced fast and stayed close together on the Gweek River during the Bogus Creek 150 on Jan. 14, 2023.
Katie Basile
Mushers raced fast and stayed close together on the Gweek River during the Bogus Creek 150 on Jan. 14, 2023.

After a brief period of above-freezing weather in Bethel, the annual Bogus Creek 150 Sled Dog Race comes as the forecast is set to drop just below freezing. Kuskokwim 300 (K300) Race Manager Paul Basile told KYUK’s Evan Erickson during morning show "Coffee@KYUK" that at least in terms of the race conditions, it’s shaping up to be a sharp contrast to the K300 just two weeks ago.

“It's certainly looking like it could be the extreme opposite,” Basile said in a "Coffee@KYUK" interview that aired Feb. 9. “I mean, the forecast is for temperatures in the high teens and 20s [Feb. 10] and [Feb. 11]. Which, you know, my guess is most mushers would consider that a welcome change from 20 below, but maybe some of them like that cold.”

The Bogus Creek 150 is scheduled to start in Bethel at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10. The K300 race committee, which organizes the Bogus Creek 150 and other regional races, hasn’t published the final roster yet. But Basile said that it’s a pretty typical field, which should make for a great race. Defending champion Raymond Alexie and former champion Jason Pavila are registered to race against K300 powerhouses Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl, both of whom have also won the Bogus Creek 150.

“It's kind of this interesting middle ground where some smaller kennels who don't do 300- or 1,000-mile races have had the ability to compete really, really well against teams like Pete [Kaiser] and Ritchie [Diehl]'s,” Basile said. “And so I think there's any number of teams in this race who are going to be competitive. And it's going to be, it's always an interesting one to watch.”

"A constant battle with the weather"

The race was postponed from its original date in mid-January because of warm weather. Basile said that does have an impact on which teams will race the Bogus Creek 150 this weekend.

“Sort of as expected, circumstances have changed for a lot of kennels since, well, almost four weeks ago now when we had intended to have the Bogus Creek 150,” Basile said. “So we've had a couple of teams that signed up in January, decided that they aren't able to race this weekend. And then a few teams that didn't feel they were ready for a 150-mile race a month ago, they do apparently feel they're ready now. And so we have a few teams added to the fields after the postponement.”

While it’s warmer than the past few weeks in Bethel, Basile said that the plan is still to race.

“We're in a constant battle with weather at this point. It doesn't look like it's going to be anywhere near as bad as what we were faced with a month ago: that was a much more significant thaw. And there were numerous challenges to trying to put in a trail at that point,” Basile said.

But, he noted, anything can happen when it comes to weather on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

“We always continue to monitor things,” Basile said. “And if there's any change made, we always make that change with enough time before the race that teams that are traveling can change their plans.”

As of Feb. 8, the National Weather Service in Anchorage forecast a chance of snow and highs in the mid- to upper 20s for the race day, Saturday, Feb. 10. Throughout Saturday night and through the following 24 hours, the agency predicted clouds and a chance of snow, with lows between 15 and 20 degrees and highs in the mid- to upper 20s Fahrenheit.

Other race details

It’s the fourth year in a row that the Bogus Creek 150 has run on a separate weekend from the Akiak Dash and Kuskokwim 300. It’s a change Basile said has had positive results.

“What we found is that it really kind of shed a new light on the Bogus Creek 150. And, you know, that generated more excitement around that particular race,” Basile said. “And really, the biggest thing is that we had much greater participation. Because, you know, now we're not splitting local mushers between three races. For many years we had fewer than 10 teams in the Bogus Creek 150, sometimes as few as six or seven, I think. So this is, you know, it was kind of a happy accident to find that, you know, not only can we get more participation and, and more teams getting paid by what's one of the biggest purses in the sport.”

This year, Basile said that the purse for the Bogus Creek 150 has increased to $75,000, a 25% increase compared to the past couple of years. It’s one of the richest purses in the sport of mushing, after the Iditarod and the Kuskokwim 300.

Race organizers are making a slight change to the trail, similar to the trail change in this year’s Kuskokwim 300 race.

“The idea every year is that we use the lower portion of the K300 race trail, and fans may recall that we had to modify the K300 trail [this year],” Basile said. “Conditions in Little Bogus Creek were dangerous, and so the race, rather than go up the Tuluksak River in and up Little Bogus Creek, the trail stays on the Kuskokwim past Tuluksak and then goes into Big Bogus Creek. But from there it follows the normal route and the Bogus Creek checkpoint will be in the usual place.”

How to keep up with the race

Race fans can watch livestreams of the start and finish of this year’s Bogus Creek 150, a partnership between KYUK and the K300.

“We'll be livestreaming as much as we can. And I urge spectators to be kind and patient with regard to livestreaming,” Basile said. “It's really challenging to do with new technology out in the cold, and so it doesn't work all the time. But it's really exciting that we're able to do it most of the time.”

Tune into KYUK 640 AM for live coverage of the 3 p.m. mass start on Saturday, Feb. 10. Then stay tuned for trail updates throughout the day and for live finish line interviews with mushers on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.
Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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