Kuskokwim 300 race officials have organized this year’s race around COVID-19 safety precautions. The race begins on Friday, Feb. 12, but mushers began arriving into Bethel earlier this week. Sixteen teams are registered to compete; nine are from outside the region.
These nine mushers and their handlers must have received a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of traveling to Bethel. All mushers must also receive a negative COVID-19 rapid test result in the week before the race in order to compete.
Out-of-town mushers and handlers must quarantine while in Bethel, and abide by Bethel’s mask mandate. Usually local volunteers open their homes to the travelers, but this year race organizers are housing the mushers and handlers. Most are being housed at Delta Cottages, and the rest in a Dale Construction bunk house. Volunteers are providing breakfasts and dinners.
The race itself will begin with a mass start to avoid people gathering together. Instead of passing through multiple communities, the course avoids villages. The race has two checkpoints. The Tuluksak checkpoint, located away from the village, is closed to the public. The Bethel checkpoint will be limited to outdoor spectators. Everyone is asked to wear a mask and keep 6 feet from others.
All gatherings associated with the race are canceled this year, and there will be no Bethel headquarters. Instead, volunteers will update the race leaderboard from their homes. The awards ceremony, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m., will be held virtually over Facebook Live.
The K300 auction is also being held virtually. Prizes include two Alaska Airlines round trip ticket vouchers, a one-hour massage, and more. The auction has already begun, and will close at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14.