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Kwethluk’s Raymond Alexie wins Bethel Sprint Mushers’ 2-day race

While Iditarod mushers set out on the trail to Nome over the weekend, mushers from up and down the Kuskokwim River gathered in Bethel for a much shorter, faster dog sled race.

Over two days, 16 mushers and dozens of dogs from villages on the Kuskokwim River competed for a cut of the Bethel Sprint Mushers Club’s $30,000 purse.

Every two minutes, teams took off from the frozen river in front of Bethel’s small boat harbor, running about nine miles up the Kuskokwim to the mouth of the Gweek River, around an island, and back to Bethel.

Then the next day, they did it again, with the previous day’s slowest team starting first and the leader starting last. The fastest cumulative time over the two days won top honors.

In the end, Kewthluk’s powerhouse Raymond Alexie finished on top of the pack in a total of 2:35:33 over the two-day race, followed by Akiak’s Mike Williams Jr. in second place and Kwethluk’s Herman Phillip in third. Fourth place Darren George of Akiachak was just 25 seconds behind.

The race was the Bethel Sprint Mushers Club’s second race of the season. The first race, just after the new year, was also won by Raymond Alexie.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.