Right from the get go, this race is going to be different. As part of our Covid mitigation strategy, the 42nd Annual Kuskokwim 300 will - for the first time ever - begin with a mass start. Once out of the gates, racers will follow a trail that differs dramatically from the traditional route, making two round trips to a location near Bogus Creek, much like the alternate route used in 2018.
Unfortunately, this route can be a little confusing, especially for folks who aren't familiar with the Kuskokwim or the place names here. Below the map you'll find our best attempt at describing the trail and then, importantly, an explanation of mandatory rest rules as they apply to this alternate route.
Find the interactive GPS tracker map at https://www.k300.org/kuskokwim-300
There will be two checkpoints on the trail this year; a camp near Tuluksak and one in Bethel, the halfway point. Racers will pass through the Tuluksak Checkpoint a total of 4 times.
From the start near the Small Boat Harbor in Bethel, racers will head upriver, staying mainly on the river trail. After traveling 50 miles they will come for the first time to the Tuluksak Camp Checkpoint. We are calling this "Tuluksak #1". Times will be recorded but teams are not required to stop - most will not.
From "Tuluksak #1" they will continue upriver where they will loop around a small island near the traditional Bogus Creek Checkpoint. We are bypassing Bogus Creek this year due to severe overflow. We will have race personnel observing the turnaround but it is not an official checkpoint. After looping around the island, mushers will head back downriver on the same trail for their second visit to the Tuluksak CP, "Tuluksak #2". The trip from Tuluksak to the turnaround and back is 43 miles.
Immediately after leaving "Tuluksak 2", racers will leave the river and take an overland route 44 miles back to Bethel. The Bethel checkpoint (Halfway) will be located at the YK Fitness Center, right in the center of town.
From the Bethel CP, mushers will head back out on the overland trail, bound for "Tuluksak #3", then on up to the turnaround near Bogus Creek once again and back to the camp at Tuluksak for stop #4.
After leaving "Tuluksak 4" racers will follow the river trail to the finish in Bethel.
Each team is required to take a total of 10 hours of mandatory rest during the race. When using the traditional trail, racers may split 6 hours of rest however they choose between the following checkpoint stops - Kalskag (outbound), Aniak, and Kalskag (inbound). Then all teams are required to take an additional 4 hours at Tuluksak (inbound) before they head to the finish in Bethel.
This year, mushers may split their 6 hours between "Tuluksak 2", Bethel and "Tuluksak 3". The mandatory 4 hour stop will happen at "Tuluksak #4", the final checkpoint before the finish.
One of the reasons the Race Committee has settled on this alternate route (for a second time) is that it keeps the run distances between checkpoints very close to what they are following the traditional course. While these changes obviously alter the race, the hope is that we do so while minimizing the strategic approach to training and racing for mushers.
Keep an eye on the tracker and enjoy the race!