Myron Angstman's Ancient History of the Kuskokwim 300
Curious to sneak a peak into Myron Angstman's recollection of the beginnings of our cherished race? Here are some of his recorded words over the years from the first decade of the race's inception.
1980: "Cold temperatures, blizzard conditions, -101 windchill...a serious blizzard crippled the race at its mid-point, forcing a 24-hour unscheduled layover at Aniak."
1981: "Who could forget the pile up of teams in Kalskag on the way home when we discovered there was no trail to Tuluksak? George Attla slept in the jail and some folks sat up and visited all night."
1982: "We started in a typical Bethel winter rain. The trail was about a foot deep and all the teams were backed up within one hour of the start...Joe Redington, Sr. dropping a double battery pack from his sled just in front of me in hopes that I would pick it up, thereby decreasing his load by about five pounds and increasing mine by the same amount."
1983: "I used an old crippled leader named Funny who hadn’t run with the team for several weeks before the race. Three or four days before the race he suddenly became interested again and went along. He rode in the sled watching all the trucks drive by to Tuluksak...I remember that old leader named Funny, limping badly, dragging the team through the overflow, past the most famous musher in the world [George Attla] and racing to the finish line with a 15 second lead."
1984: "This was a new style of race. No longer leisurely and somehow less friendly. We went until we dropped and in my case, that was at Tuluksak on the way home. I ran without leaders from Aniak to Tuluksak and finally discovering I had no one who would take the team out of the checkpoint. I thought it would be better to fly home than walk. I still do."
1985: "After racing in Minnesota, I sat out this race while my helper Nathan Underwood race the team...The river was glare ice and teams were all over the Kuskokwim. The rumor floated around that Nathan had been off the trail and would be penalized. In a silly decision, Race Marshal Jim Strong said that the penalty would be administered at the finish line. There were more tired dogs than in previous years. It was an awful scene when the first team to cross the finish line finished fourth."
1986: "It was an impressive field of racers, probably our strongest field ever, including the queen of long distance Susan Butcher...For the first time ever, I had a lively team leaving Kalskag. I had the fastest time ever from Kalskag to Aniak, under three hours...On the trail out of Kalskag, the dogs were going so well at one point that I let out with a war hoop that probably could have been heard at Bogus Creek. I knew we wouldn’t be caught unless something went drastically haywire. It didn’t and we weren’t."
1987: Another Minnesota race and another helper raced our team in the ‘300. Bo Bergland had an unusually slow run to Aniak...Driving along the side of the trail, it appeared that no one would gain ground on front running Rick Mackey. The last ten miles were soft and slow, however, and Bo closed within 8-10 minutes at the finish. One happy Swede."
1988: "Stupid mistakes come to mind when this race is remembered. Leaving my thermos at Kalskag, missing the turn-off out of Aniak, feeding an experimental product when another product had been very successful in the past. Sick dogs. The old saying, 'Fly rather than walk,' again made sense. This time I flew home from Aniak."
1989: "For the first time ever, the K-300 was delayed by cold weather. Record-breaking cold, teeth-chattering cold and hard-on-dogs cold."
1990: "I passed Susan Butcher on the trail and wondered how someone that moves so slow could get any place so fast. I had an old dog named Bear who rode in the sled for the first time ever at age 9 and cost me a chance to finish better than 4th. I consciously took it a little easier than ever before because of two consecutive scratches and the hard time I was getting as a result."
1991: "I did well on the first 100 miles of ice because it was the kind of ice dogs like to run on. The conditions changed at Kalskag to become the most miserable imaginable. Too many feet were ruined on too many dogs. Mine flew home from Aniak."
1992: "I started out with a young but very fast team, the fastest I had ever raced...A broken sled hurt my chances and for the second time, I was 18 minutes behind the winner. But I told myself, the last time I finished 18 minutes behind, I came back to win the next year."
What's worth remembering about this year's race?