Exactly one month from the start of the Kuskokwim 300, 31 mushers have signed up for the race to Aniak and back. Race Manager Zach Fansler says it’s the biggest field in two decades.
“We’re really excited for this race. 31 teams is the most teams we’ve had sign up since 1994,” said Fansler.
Most of the sport’s biggest names like Jeff King, DeeDee Jonrowe, and Martin Buser will be at the line, along with fan favorite Lance Mackey. From Western Alaska, fans will see Pete Kaiser, plus Isaac and Nathan Underwood from Aniak, and Richie Diehl. Akiak’s Mike Williams Junior and Senior are back. Donald Towarak of Unalakleet is signed up, along with Nome’s Rolland Trowbridge and Tara Cicatello. Past champion John Baker and partner Katherine Keith of Kotzebue are set to race.
To pull off a successful race, Fansler says the race is looking for extra logistics help for housing mushers and trucking dogs, along with trail support.
“We’re checking for more mushers on the trail, we’re looking at safety, we’re looking at dropped dog situations, there’s a lot more transporting of food that needs to be done,” said Fansler.
There will be fewer dogs per team this year, as the limit was lowered from 14 to 12 dogs.
Leading up to the big race the K300 organization has set the date for their early season sprint race later this month. Fansler says the 40-mile Holiday Classic, will be December 27th — that’s moved back a week due to bad trail conditions.
“We’re still looking to get some established trails, with the travel on the river that we’ve been seeing lately, and we’d like to get more snow, which I think is coming. Anecdotally speaking with some of the teams, not all of the teams are as trained as others, which is always a concern. We’re weighing these things heavily,” said Fansler.
Another race, the 100-Mile Challenge, was scheduled for December 27th and will be delayed to January 3rd. The Kuskokwim 300 begins January 16th in Bethel.