After delays caused by the pandemic, sled dog racing season began this weekend along the lower Kuskokwim. There were special rules in place for competitors and spectators to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee hosted the winter’s first local race on Jan. 2: a 50-mile course that ran upriver from Bethel to the Gweek River and back.
Jason Pavila of Kwethluk, age 17, took first in the season opener with an elapsed time of 3 hours and 58 minutes. He’s a musher to watch on the local race scene. Two years ago, Pavila won the Bogus Creek 150 in his rookie attempt. At just 15 at the time, he was the youngest musher in the field.
Taking second place in the season opener was Fr. Alexander Larson of Napaskiak, with an elapsed time of 4 hours and 5 minutes. In third place was Iditarod champion and five-time K300 winner Pete Kaiser of Bethel, with an elapsed time of 4 hours and 9 minutes.
In total, 19 local mushers finished the race. The first 15 took home portions of the $20,000 purse. The next local race is the Holiday Classic, which takes place this coming Saturday, Jan. 9, beginning at 11 a.m. on the same trail.