50 Mile Challenge Preview
As of this writing, 12 teams are signed up to race tomorrow in the 50 Mile Challenge (originally planned as the 100 Mile Challenge). The race will begin with a staggered start near the mouth of the small boat harbor at 11:00 AM, but closer to the bank than the usual location (near the old barge). Racers will draw a number upon arrival at the start line and will line up in that order. One important change for mushers to note - in light of the reduced mileage this is now an 8 dog race.
Racers will be competing for a purse of $20,000 with a prize of $2,700 going to the winner.
From the start mushers will closely hug the left bank as they head upriver on the Kuskokwim. They will then continue up the Gweek River, continuing to hug the banks where there is snow, with just 3 or 4 river crossings. At the halfway point there is a well-marked turnaround and then racers will head back to Bethel following the same route.
For the most part the trail keeps to areas of hard packed snow with occasional icy sections. Trail markers observed some cracks in the ice - any that appeared wide enough to create an issue have been marked and, when possible, filled in with snow.
1. The race will begin with a mass start at 11am on the Kuskokwim River near the mouth of the small boat harbor in Bethel. The K300 truck will mark the start line and teams may choose whatever starting position they like.
2. Eight dog limit.
3. No dropped dogs.
4. General passing rules apply. When any team approaches to within 50 feet of another team, the team behind has the immediate right of way upon demand. The racer ahead must stop their dogs and hold them to the best of their ability for a maximum of one minute or until the other team has passed, whichever occurs first. The passed team must remain behind at least 15 minutes before demanding the trail. The race officials may penalize a team if this rule is violated. “No Man’s Land” will be marked by two K300 stakes about a mile from the finish.
5. No pacing by snow machine. There may be an official snow machine pacing the field in the early part of the trail to show all teams the proper trail, and also perhaps at other points on the trail as needed.
6. Mushers must be a current member of the K300 to participate in this race. Membership may be purchased for $100.