Updated: 11:19 a.m.
The first mushers have arrived at the halfway checkpoint for the 2021 Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race. The top three mushers arrived within one hour of each other.
2021 Bogus Creek 150 Champion Richie Diehl from Aniak is riding the momentum from his win two weeks ago. He arrived first to the halfway checkpoint at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center in Bethel at 9:35 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13 with 12 dogs. He was trailed by Nicholas Petit from Girdwood who arrived 28 minutes after Diehl at 10:03 a.m., with 12 dogs. Petit had broken into an early lead at the beginning of the race, but Diehl caught up and passed him shortly before midnight.
Reigning 2020 K300 champion Pete Kaiser arrived at the checkpoint in third place at 10:31 a.m. with 12 dogs. The tracker had shown Kaiser in the middle of the pack as late as midnight, but he had crept his way toward the leaders sometime in the early hours of the morning. The leading three mushers all took two hours of rest before arriving at the halfway checkpoint.
Aniak’s Isaac Underwood arrived in fourth place, followed by Fr. Alexander Larson in fifth place. This is Larson’s first 300-mile race, which is coming on the heels of a third place finish in the Bogus Creek 150.
In sixth place is Matt Failor from Willow, who won the K300 in 2019 and came in second in 2020. Failor’s tracker stopped working immediately after the mass start on Friday, Feb. 12. Race organizers were able to reattach his tracker at the Tuluksak checkpoint on his way back to Bethel.
Here are the arrival times for mushers into the halfway checkpoint at the fitness center in Bethel:
- Richie Diehl (Aniak) arrived at 9:35 a.m. with 11 dogs
- Nicholas Petit (Girdwood) arrived at 10:03 a.m. with 12 dogs
- Pete Kaiser (Bethel) arrived at 10:31 a.m. with 12 dogs
- Isaac Underwood (Aniak) arrived at 10:54 a.m. with 11 dogs
- Fr. Alexander Larson (Napaskiak) arrived at 10:58 a.m. with 10 dogs
- Matthew Failor (Willow) arrived at 11:07 a.m. with 11 dogs
An initial version of this story stated that Richie Diehl arrived at the halfway checkpoint with 12 dogs. A subsequent version of the story then said that Diehl arrived with 11 dogs. In fact, the initial report was correct and Diehl arrived at the halfway checkpoint with 12 dogs.