Local sprint mushers will hit the trail on Saturday, Jan. 18, for the Akiak Dash mass start at 2 p.m.
Bill Eggimann is the race marshal for the 60-mile race from Bethel to Akiak and back. He sat down with KYUK’s Laura Kraegel to preview the competition.
Bill Eggimann: The Dash starts at 2:00 [p.m.] on Saturday down on the river. It’s unique in that there’s a mass start. Everybody’ll line up and go! It goes to Akiak; that’s the only checkpoint. They get there, sign in, wait two hours, and go back. There’s no stopping or assistance along the way.
KYUK: Do we know anything about the field at this point?
Eggimann: On Friday night, there’s a meeting at 9:00 [p.m.]. That’s when the field is determined. People show up and sign up. It can be really anyone who’s 14 years old or older, unless they have a special clearance, if younger. So it’s really an interesting mixture, because there’ll be people who are just starting. Might be their first race. But at the same time, there are people with tremendous experience in the race too.
KYUK: There will be so much mushing this weekend‚ and a lot of the focus will go to the big race, the Kuskokwim 300, as well as the Bogus Creek 150. In your opinion, what sets the Dash apart? What sets it apart as its own important competition.
Eggimann: I don’t know. I think it’s as interesting as any of the races and as important. Like I say, there can be people just starting out, or people who are very experienced, but the competition is very intense. And it more reflects the kind of racing that is done locally here. These are sprint races. Village races look a lot like this race looks. You take dogs that have been trained to do the longer race, the 300, and they might not do so well in this race. It’s very specific training and so forth that goes into getting dogs ready for this kind of a race. The dogs are more specifically sprint dogs.
KYUK: Thanks for speaking with me, Bill. Is there anything else you think mushing fans should know ahead of the Akiak Dash?
Eggimann: It’s just fun to be there for the start, that’s for sure. The dogs being so excited and ready to go, the energy builds and builds. It’s a really fantastic start. You can walk around being close to the teams. You can really see and get close to the race. It’s fun. It’s just really fun.
That was Bill Eggimann, race marshal for the Akiak Dash, which pays out a $30,000 purse to the first 15 finishers.
Mushers can register by 9 p.m. on Jan. 17 at K300 Race Headquarters in Bethel. Then the race starts tomorrow, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m.