Registration for the 42nd Annual Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race opened at 9:00 AM yesterday, Monday, October 5th. At 9:01 AM, the first submission came through, from Glenallen, AK musher, Dennis Kananowicz. From there the submissions kept a pace that surprised race organizers, who weren’t sure how much interest to expect from mushers faced with the prospect of traveling to a significantly modified race in rural Alaska in the midst of a pandemic. After just 24 hours of registration the 2021 K300 boasts a field 16 teams strong with some of the biggest names in the sport already signed up.
“That’s a record for first day registrations by a long shot”, said Myron Angstman, K300 Race Committee Chairman and co-founder.
The Kuskokwim 300 starts in Bethel, AK, traverses traditional trails up the Kuskokwim River to Aniak, AK and then returns to Bethel. It is commonly described by mushers as one of the toughest races in the sport and with a total purse of $160,000, is second only to the Iditarod in terms of prize money awarded each year.
Among the racers to sign up thus far are Iditarod champions Jeff King, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Bethel’s own hometown hero, Pete Kaiser, as well as Yukon Quest Champions Brent Sass and Matt Hall. Other perennial favorites to join the 2021 race include Richie Diehl, Michelle Phillips, Jessie Holmes, Wade Marrs and Matthew Failor, who won the 2019 K300.
The K300 Race Committee is taking drastic measures to ensure the safety of Kuskokwim communities and race participants during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Mushers visiting from outside the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region will be subjected to a rigorous testing protocol and will be housed in isolation from the Bethel community in the days before and after the race. Organizers are considering a number of possible modifications to the racecourse itself, but it appears increasingly likely that they will by-pass traditional village checkpoints completely, in order to avoid potential exposure in those locales.
The Race Committee published an outline of Cov-19 related “Policies and Guidelines” on their website (https://www.k300.org/covid-19-policies) last week and will continue to provide details to the public concerning their evolving plans for this year’s very unusual race.
Full Roster as of 9:00 AM 10/6/20 in the order of registration:
Joar Leifseth Ulsom