The Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race begins Friday, Feb. 12, followed by the Akiak Dash on Saturday, Feb. 13. The races looks different this year due to the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know to participate as a fan this race weekend.
The Kuskokwim 300 begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 at the mouth of Bethel’s small boat harbor. To avoid people crowding together, the race will begin with a mass start for the first time in K300 history.
How To Listen To Start Line Coverage
Race organizers will not set up a sound system to announce the beginning of the race, but KYUK has you covered. You can tune into KYUK 640 AM beginning at 6 p.m. for live race coverage of the start, and then stay tuned throughout the weekend for trail updates, six minutes past the top of the hour.
After the race start, stay near the river. The K300 Fireworks show will blast off beginning at 8 p.m. The show is dedicated to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s front line health care workers.
Who Is Racing
Sixteen teams are registered to compete in the K300. Seven of the teams are from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and three of those teams are competing in the race for the first time. Three champions are returning: five-time winner Pete Kaiser of Bethel, nine-time winner Jeff King of Denali Park, and one-time winner Matthew Failor of Willow. Also competing is this year’s Bogus 150 winner, Richie Diehl of Aniak.
K300 Race Route
The K300 course will mirror the 2018 route, with teams racing from Bethel to Bogus Creek and back, and then repeating the route.
There will be two checkpoints: one near Tuluksak and another in Bethel.
The Tuluksak checkpoint will be a camp outside the community of Tuluksak. Race volunteers will provide food and a warming tent to mushers, along with approximately 660 bottles of HEET for mushers to use for melting snow for their dog teams. The Tuluksak checkpoint is closed to the public as a safety precaution during the pandemic, and race personnel will not enter the community of Tuluksak.
The Bethel checkpoint marks the halfway point of the race. This checkpoint will be located outside the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center. The checkpoint is open to spectators. Race fans are asked to wear masks and keep 6 feet from others. Only mushers will be allowed inside the fitness center, where they can get water for their teams, rest, and eat.
Mushers are required to rest six hours in the first three passes through checkpoints, and must rest four hours in the final pass through the Tuluksak checkpoint.
The finish line will be located at the same location as the start line at the mouth of the Bethel small boat harbor. A K300 winner is expected early on Sunday, Feb. 14. In recent years, a winner has arrived between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
The 65-mile Akiak Dash begins Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. near the mouth of Bethel’s small boat harbor. This race always begins with a mass start, racing upriver to Akiak, turning around, and returning to Bethel. There is one change to the race this year: mushers are not required to take a one-hour layover in Akiak, so teams are expected into Bethel earlier this year, around 6:30 p.m. that same day.
Follow The Race With KYUK And K300
Stay tuned to the race action for both the K300 and Akiak Dash all weekend long on KYUK 640 AM, with live start line coverage and live trail updates at six minutes past the top of the hour.
Watch the race unfold online using the K300 gps tracker and leaderboard.
Correction: The original version of this artical said two former champions are competing in the 2021 K300. That is incorrect. Three former champions are competing: five-time winner Pete Kaiser of Bethel, nine-time winner Jeff King of Denali Park, and one-time winner Matthew Failor of Willow.