k300

Mushing dogs. (Chris Pike/ KYUK)

Mushing dogs. (Chris Pike/ KYUK)

Two sled dog races are happening this weekend in Bethel: on Feb. 13th the February 50, sponsored by the Kuskokwim 300, and on Feb. 14th a 50-mile sprint, sponsored by the Bethel Sprint Club. The race routes are identical, starting and ending at the barge near the mouth of the Small Boat Harbor and following the K300 trail. Teams are limited to eight dogs and purses total $12,300. The races begin at 11 a.m.

Martin Buser at K300 Mushers Meeting. (Photo by Chris Pike.)

Martin Buser at the 2016 K300 Mushers Meeting. (Photo by Chris Pike.)

Martin Buser has been dropped to last place and without prize money for this year’s Kuskokwim 300. The race committee announced the decision after reviewing evidence of Buser committing two penalties: leaving the trail and receiving help feeding his dogs. But, Buser tells a different story. Read more →

Brent Sass is competing in the K300 for the second time this year. (Photo by Chris Pike/ KYUK)

Brent Sass is competing in the K300 for the second time this year. (Photo by Chris Pike/ KYUK)

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.”
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With nine wins, Jeff King is the most decorated K300 champion in the history of the race.

With nine wins, Jeff King is the most decorated K300 champion in the history of the race.

This year’s field for the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race is the biggest in recent history with over 30 competitors already signed up. Nine-time K300 Champion Jeff King of Denali Park, Alaska is the musher that has won Alaska’s premier mid-distance sled dog race more than any other musher, most recently winning in 2013.

After coming in third place last year, King says he’s considering a different strategy.

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Kuskokwim 300 Logo. (Courtesy of Kuskokwim 300)

Kuskokwim 300 Logo. (Courtesy of Kuskokwim 300)

The Kuskokwim 300 Race committee is set to meet with local mushers tonight at 7 in Bethel to discuss concerns, and to update mushers about the current trail conditions.
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Pete Kaiser at the 2015 Kuskokwim 300 finish with his lead dogs, Palmer and Rosie. - Photo by Chris Pike

Pete Kaiser at the 2015 Kuskokwim 300 finish with his lead dogs, Palmer and Rosie. Photo by Chris Pike

The Iditarod starts Saturday with a ceremonial run through Anchorage and a restart on Monday in Fairbanks. Extremely low snow conditions forced the race to change to a more northerly route. Bethel’s Pete Kaiser is one of two Yukon Kuskokwim Delta competitors among the 78-musher field racing this year to Nome.
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Teams begin the 2015 Akiak Dash in a mass start. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK

Teams begin the 2015 Akiak Dash in a mass start. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK

The next K300-sponsored sled dog race is slated for Saturday February 14th. Teams in this year’s February 50 will compete for a $10,000 purse. The actual trail will be set in the coming days.

The mass start near the Bethel boat harbor is at 11 a.m. and there will be an eight-dog limit.

2nd place Rohn Buser was fined for going off the race trail, as well has his father Martin Buser.

2nd place Rohn Buser was fined for going off the race trail, as well as his father Martin Buser.

The Kuskokwim 300 race committee is adding 10 minutes to the race times of mushers Martin and Rohn Buser and fining them 10 percent of their prize money for going off the main race trail near the end of the race. Their finishing positions will not change. The race says they gained an unfair competitive advantage by taking an unmarked trail through Church Slough.
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Humanitarian Award winner Kristin Bacon. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Humanitarian Award winner Kristin Bacon. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Musher Kristin Bacon won the humanitarian award for excellent dog care during the Kuskokwim 300. The race presented the award during the banquet Monday night. She ran a team of mostly Jeff King’s dogs in her first Kuskokwim 300.

Rookie of the year went to Raelyn Shover, who ran one of three teams from Lance Mackey’s kennel. She finished in 16th place.

2015 Kuskokwim 300 winner Pete Kaiser of Bethel, the first local musher to win in 29 years, received a standing ovation. He thanked family, friends, and the entire YK Delta region for years of support.
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Rohn Buser came in second place in the 2015 K300.

Rohn Buser came in second place in the 2015 K300.

The Kuskokwim 300 race committee has made a decision about Martin and Rohn Buser going off the main race trail. What that decision was remained confidential at the well-attended race banquet Monday evening.

Race manager Zach Fansler said race the committee came to a consensus and decided to assess penalties which he did not name. However, the race times announced at the banquet for the father and son mushers were 10 minutes longer than their posted times.

Both Rohn Buser and Martin Buser drove their teams on Church Slough back to Bethel, veering off the race trail that follows the Kuskokwim river. Locals say the route is  slightly shorter.
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