K300 updates its COVID-19 testing requirements as omicron surges
The Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race has never been cancelled in its over-40-year history, despite adversities. This year, the race is finding its way forward amid the statewide surge in omicron COVID-19 cases. The race starts next weekend, and organizers have issued a series of mitigations to try to prevent the race from becoming a vector for the virus.
The race rules include strict testing and vaccination requirements. The organizers created the rules in consultation with health experts at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC).
The big updates are to the testing protocols. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 within 10 days of the race will not be able to participate.
Mushers, handlers, and race volunteers from outside the region must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before traveling into Bethel. Upon arriving in Bethel, mushers and handlers will receive two at-home tests. One test must be taken immediately upon arrival, and the other the night before the K300 race. Test results must be shared with race organizers.
For all local mushers and handlers from the region, each must get tested the Monday before the race, either at the Bethel YKHC testing center or a local health clinic. Local mushers and handlers will receive at-home tests to take the night before the race, and must show proof of a negative test to race organizers.
All volunteers working in indoor areas must show proof of a negative test to race organizers within either 24 hours of arriving in Bethel or beginning their volunteer duties. Race organizers can provide at-home tests to volunteers who need them.
If a musher, handler, or volunteer from outside the region tests positive for the virus while in Bethel, race organizers and YKHC will provide isolated housing, meals, and dog care to them for at least five days.
Anyone involved in the race must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That goes for mushers, handlers, race officials, and volunteers. Booster shots are encouraged, but not required.
The Pamyua concert scheduled during the race weekend has been cancelled, and the awards banquet will be closed to the public. The fireworks show will still blast off after the start of the K300 race.
How To Watch The Races
At the start and finish line, spectators are encouraged to remain in their vehicles, or remain socially distant, or otherwise wear masks. Race headquarters and all the checkpoints will be closed to the public, but you can watch the race from the trail or the online tracker.
Tune in at the top of every hour for a live race update on KYUK 640 AM. We plan to have reporters at the checkpoints with the latest news from the trail.
The K300 begins in Bethel on Friday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. with the Akiak Dash following on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m.