The Kuskokwim 300 organization has released what could be the final list of mushers competing in this year’s race. Nine days from the start of the K300, race manager Paul Basile hesitates to say these 19 teams are finalized.
“A couple have withdrawn over the last couple weeks mainly over concerns about the training they’ve been able to do and in places where they didn’t have much snow early in the winter, so they’re behind on training,” Basile said. “And of course some of the greatest mushers around are going to be here again.”
Josh McNeal, a previous Kobuk 440 competitor and former training partner with musher Ken Anderson, was among those to withdraw from the 2020 K300 after signing up earlier in the season.
The ages of mushers currently signed up ranges from the youngest, 21-year-old Dakota Schlosser, to the less young, 78-year-old Jim Lanier. Neither one has completed this mid-distance race before. According to race archives, Lanier attempted the K300 in 2008 but scratched before reaching the finish.
Top competitors and previous K300 winners entered in this year’s race include Pete Kaiser, Jeff King and reigning champion Matthew Failor.
All those registered to run from Bethel to Aniak and back, will be vying for a first place finish and the reward of $25,000. The K300 is giving out a total of $160,000 to the top 25 finishers, with some extra checkpoint prizes coming from the race’s sponsors.
Some potentially good news for those 19 mushers, Basile expects the trail conditions for this year’s race will include hard-packed snow.
“So our river ice is in the best shape it’s been in years, we have a little bit of snow now, they’re calling for more starting Friday or Saturday,” he said. “And at this stage there’s no dramatic warm-up in the forecast, so it seems pretty good, for the moment.”
Interested mushers can still sign up for the 2020 K300, however the entry fee was doubled with the start of the new year. Fees went from a refundable $400 to non-refundable $800 on Jan. 1.
The race begins in Bethel on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m.