The Kuskokwim 300 is a nearly 300-mile race that takes place on the icy Kuskokwim River every year.
Brent Sass, dog musher and former Yukon Quest champion.
“We’re still sort of in the grieving process of that,” Sass said. “As everyone knows my start dog, and arguably my best dog died a couple of days ago. That’s been a big blow–Basin–missing him, and I don’t really know how me or my team will react to that.”
The night before Sass was heading to Anchorage en route to Bethel, he noticed something was wrong. His dog, Basin, was ill.
Basin was Sass’s five-year-old lead dog, taking Sass over the finish line at last year’s Yukon Quest.
Sass was camping when he noticed Basin was sick. He says when he went to check on him during the night, the dog’s condition was furthered by the cold.
Basin died that evening, two days before the race.
The following morning, Sass was supposed to get on a plane and fly to Anchorage. He and his dogs were set to compete in the Kuskokwim 300–a nearly 300-mile race over the course of three days.
(Video by Dean Swope/ KYUK)
“We’ve only done like two or three runs since then, so I think that I’ll see it more on this run when they kind of start to see that he’s not there,” Sass said.
Sass says he went home for a day and just sat there. And then he realized he had to compete. Another dog, Sound, will take Basin’s place. Sass says he doesn’t know how he or the dogs will react to the trail this time around without Basin.
“You have to come to the race prepared, I feel like I’ve done,” Sass said. “I’ve had my fair share of challenges; dog mushing is about overcoming challenges, whether that’s on the trail or in your personal life.”
Anna Rose MacArthur assisted with interviews for this story.