Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pictures of the K300 start

Iain Foulds has posted a nice set of pictures of the K300, Akiak Dash and Bogus Creek 150 starts on his Flicker site.

Our buddies over at APRN now have a nice wrapup audio here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mitch Seavey wins K300

Mitch Seavey makes it 2 in a row as he won the weather shortened Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race. Seavey pockets the $20,000 purse for 1st place. Martin Buser followed him into the Bethel Alaska finishline 8 minutes later. Buser held a slim 1 minute lead coming into the last checkpoint at Kwethluk 22 miles from the finishline, however Seavey had already closed on the 9 minute lead Buser had on him at the Tuluksak checkpoint 30 miles previous. Jeff King held onto 3rd place as he checked over 4th place finisher John Baker who was racing with a broken elbow suffered before the start of the race.

Once again, weather played a key role in the event. Warm temperatures, rain and very windy conditions caused the start of the race to be delayed twice as mushers and dogs were late in arriving and race officials were late in staging food drops and officials on the course. The course was also shortened by about 50 miles by dropping the Pike Lake loop. Weather conditions were good once the race got underway, however the mostly river based trail had turned to mostly frozen slush or glare ice. A pack of 7 teams stayed in contention for the win through 75% of the race with Seavey and Buser finally separating from the pack for the lead with about 75 miles left. Young Pete Kaiser, a local from Bethel showed great promise by finishing in 6th less then 2 and a half hours behind Seavey.

Mitch Seavey near Aniak

Monday, January 19, 2009

Buser grabs K300 lead

2 time winner Martin Buser rolled in to Tuluksak at 5:24 this evening to pull into the lead in the Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race. 9 minutes later, last years K300 winner Mitch Seavey pulled in, and 7 minutes after that, 8 time K300 winner Jeff King showed up. As of 5:40 pm, those were the only teams to report in to Tuluksak making it a high probability that the eventual winner is among those 3. Race rules call for a mandatory 4 hour layover in Tuluksak. From there, it is a 52 mile sprint to the finishline in Bethel. Buser can depart Tuluksak at 9:24, Seavey at 9:33 and King at 9:40. We are guessing the winner's arrival time in Bethel will be about 3:30 in the morning.

Dave DeCaro interview

Dave Decaro is running a team for Jeff King's kennel, and was one of 2 mushers who spent any time in Aniak, so we had a chance to ask him a few questions. Since he was toward the end of the pack coming into Aniak, he could see the order of teams on the return trip. He stated that he saw Jeff's team first, and Martin Buser's team was about 10 minutes behind. Given the condition of the trail, the dogs are unable to "dip" snow with their tongues en route, and thus were running hot and dehydrated, and Dave credits this issue with the slow times the teams were posting between Kalskag and Aniak on the out trip.

Dee Dee Jonrowe is still in Aniak, as she has decided to give her dogs a break there. She too says the dogs are getting tired and overheated due to the trail conditions.

King takes K300 lead

Aniak checkpoint:John Baker arrived in Aniak first followed 1 minute later by Jeff King. John was complaining about his arm, and dropped one dog. Jeff King checked in and immediately left Aniak taking the lead. Baker left next followed by Martin Buser. Pete Kaiser is looking really good and hanging with the leaders. It looks like most teams are spending very little time in Aniak. Ed Iten was one musher who decided to stop in Aniak to snack his dogs and said the reason it took so long on the run from Kalskag to Aniak was all the icy spots on the river during that stretch. Hugh Neff's team initially did not want to leave town, so he decided to snack them. Then they got entangled with Ken Anderson's team, and once they got untangled they were ready to go. Some pictures are now available at

Baker in K300 lead

The K300 leaderboard shows John Baker leaving Kalskag at 00:04:00, however according to Will Peterson of KYUK who is in Kalskag, Baker left Kalskag at 04:00:00. Thus he has his 6 hour layover complete, and is in a lead pack of 6 racers all within 17 minutes of each other and with their mandatory layovers complete. The leaders are expected in Aniak shortly. We hope to get interviews and photos from the turnaround there within the next few hours. Most if all of these teams will spend little time in Aniak and head back to Kalskag. Top 6 are John Baker, Ed Iten, Jeff King, Martin Buser, Pete Kaiser, and Mitch Seavey.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

K300 starts today

After a weather related delay of 2 days, the Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race will begin today at noon with local favorite Mike Williams, and Yukon Quest runner-up Ken Anderson in the starting chute first. At 8 am this morning the temperature at Bethel Airport was 6 degrees with a wind out of the north at 17 miles an hour. This is a significant improvement over the weather occurring over the previous 48 hours where unseasonably warm temperatures and very stiff winds caused all sorts of problems with race logistics.

Heavy winds and icy runways caused numerous flight delays for planes carrying dogs and mushers from Anchorage to Bethel. Eventually all mushers and dogs except for those of Dallas Seavey and Sebastian Schnuelle made it to Bethel. Both of those mushers elected to withdraw from the race. In Bethel, very windy conditions and very slippery conditions caused more havoc. Iditarod veteran musher John Baker slipped on the ice and broke his elbow. There has been no indication that he has withdrawn from the race however. race officials were unable to get food drops and race officials out on the course since very little air traffic was able to depart from Bethel. One of the race volunteers planes (a Cesna 185) was blown from it's moorings and destroyed.

Ken Anderson has some added incentive to score his fair share of the $100,000 purse. His pickup hit a moose on the way into Anchorage and caused significant damage to it merely a week after he had dropped collision insurance on it. All the dogs are raring to go after several days of very little activity. The course is being laid out to avoid any open water from last weeks significant thaw, but there is always the chance of hitting some overflow hidden beneath the snow, and mushers are preparing to get wet. With the cold weather now, the trail will either be frozen slush or glare ice. This poses a dilemma for mushers since booties are required for protection in the frozen slush, but don't help at all on the glare ice since the toenails are required for traction. Mushers able to put booties on and off efficiently, especially with smaller teams will have the advantage. John Baker will find that task particularly difficult.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday morning K300 update

The race start has been delayed again until Sunday. The Fairbanks News-Miner is reporting that Sebastian Schneulle and Dallas Seavey have dropped out, however K300 is only showing that Dallas Seavey has dropped out. Weather in Bethel this morning is in the teens with a stiff breeze.

Friday, January 16, 2009

K300 gears up for delayed start

The Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race will not begin Friday evening as planned as the start has been delayed at least until Saturday. With plenty of snow on the ground as the weather turned warm and rain began to fall created very icy conditions, and race officials were not able to carry out the food drops and staging of race officals in time for the start of the race. The planned start of the race is now Saturday at 3:00 pm. The Pike Lake loop has now been eliminated from this year's race.

There had been reports that Sebastian Schneulle and Dallas Seavey had dropped from the race, but race official Sarah Angstman has indicated during her interview with KYUK this morning that those reports are incorrect. Schneulle has not arrived in Bethel yet, but still plans to race, and all 18 entrants are still planning to race according to Angstman.

Many teams including that of Martin Buser had difficulty traveling from Anchorage to Bethel due to flight delays and cancellations into Bethel due to ice on the runway there. Buser and his dogs were stranded at the Anchorage airport due to the fact that he and the dogs were dropped off there, however Jeff King lent him his dog trailer to move his team to an area out of the wind and driving rain until they could finally catch a flight out. Martin and his team were able to catch a flight out around 1 am Friday on a plane that also carried Jeff King, John Baker, Mitch Seavey and team, and Ken Anderson and team.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mushers and Dogs Delayed in Anchorage

UPDATE Jan 16 03:40: The K300 start has been postponed. The reason is likely due to weather and poor trail conditions. By Crow Village, there is 6 inches of overflow over 20% of the river and the trail has not been marked yet. Start options will be decided at the 8 am mandatory mushers meeting. Dallas Seavey and Sebastian Schnuelle have withdrawn due to weather.

Delayed flights blamed on weather is making it difficult to get mushers and dogs to Bethel for the start of the Kuskokwim 300 this Friday. As reported on the radio by Will Peterson, the Husky Homestead teams for Jeff King and Dave Decaro have been transported to Bethel, however Jeff and Dave are still stuck in Anchorage. Also still stuck in Anchorage are the Seavey teams and mushers, Ken Anderson and dogs, and John Baker and dogs. We will update when we come across new information.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Elite Mushers Prepare for Wet K300

With $100,000 in purse money up for grabs, an impressive field of mushers have signed up to run the Kuskokwim 300 (K300) dogsled race. These include last year's winner Mitch Seavey along with his son and Iditarod veteran Dallas Seavey, 8 time K300 winner and 4 time Iditarod winner Jeff King, 4 time Iditarod and 2 time K300 winner Martin Buser, runner-up in last year's Yukon Quest Ken Anderson, seasoned Iditarod racer and local celebrity Dee Dee Jonrowe, and seasoned Iditarod veterans Ed Iten, John Baker, Sebastian Schneulle and Aaron Burmeister. The race begins Friday, January 16.

In the 29 year history of this popular mid-distance race, it has been known for its fast trail and frigid temperatures. That was until last years race where rain and warm temperatures turned the event into a slog, or as Martin Buser’s wife, Kathy Chapoton joked - the Kusko-Swim. With plenty of snow on the ground, warm temperatures and mixed precipitation in the forecast, the teams and support staff are preparing for sloggy conditions again.

With a victory in last years unusual race and a strong kennel preparing to send three teams to the Iditarod, Team Seavey have positioned themselves as strong contenders for the victory. 21 year old Dallas Seavey first ran the Iditarod at 18 years of age, and now that he has finished college has turned his attention to full time mushing. His father Mitch is fresh off a very successful year of racing not only winning the K300, but also pocketing the $100,000 winner-take-all purse in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes. The Seavey kennel has declared their desire to win this race, but we are still unsure whether Mitch or Dallas will have the "A" team of dogs.

Jeff King has won the K300 an amazing 8 times and is sometimes referred to as the King of the Kuskokwim. He had a strong start in last years race, however he did not cope well with the deteriorating conditions at the end of the race finishing 8th. He expects to do much better this year.

Martin Buser is a significant contender year in and year out at the K300 as he likes to measure himself against Jeff in the race. He played second fiddle to his son Rohn in last year's event, however, Rohn won't be participating this year, so expect Martin to push the pace the entire race.

We'll be covering the race with words and pictures, so stay tuned.