Five past champions are registered for this January’s Kuskokwim 300. 9-time and defending champion Jeff King will seek his record 10th title. 1995 Champion Ramey Smyth returns, along with former winners Paul Gebhardt, Martin Buser, and his son Rohn Buser. 15 teams are signed up, and that’s a good sign, according to race director Zach Fansler.
“It’s a really excellent field already for this year’s K300. 15 is a phenomenal number and I would not be shocked if we see 10 to 15 more. We’re talking to lot of mushers.. a lot of mushers like to check out conditions and see where their team is at. One thing that’s becoming en vogue is if you’re going to send out one team, you can send out two,” said Fansler.
Registered to race from the region are Mike Williams Junior and Mike Williams Senior, along with Aniak’s Richie Deihl. There is no official registration yet from Pete Kaiser.
Norwegian Joar Ulsom returns, along with Cim Smyth, Kristy Berington, Tony Browning, and 23-time Iditarod finisher Tim Osmar.
Two rookies are signed up: Steve Watkins and Warren Palfry of Canada. Fansler says the field has a good depth to it.
“It’s one of the best fields we’ll have in terms of size, in terms of fan friendly mushers, that everyone enjoys seeing out here,” said Fansler.
Just 6 weeks from the start of the race, Fansler says the organization is in a big push to finalize sponsors and get volunteers set up for the race. He says this year is a milestone year.
“This is our 35th anniversary. We take pride in that this is the kind of event we’re always trying to make bigger, but it’s not just about growth, it’s about sustainability, and making sure that we’re taking the steps to make this event benefit everyone in our community and put a great spotlight on Bethel. It can raise the profile on our sport, our mushers, our town, and the whole Y-K Delta,” said Fansler.
The 2014 Kuskokwim 300 kicks off January 17th.