One of the important races in dog mushing is the Kuskokwum 300. The 300 mile sled-dog race is an early winter season race. It is a popular race for dog mushers to gear up for the larger races like the Iditarod or Yukon Quest. Often, the weather conditions are harsh, with blizzards and large windchills causing the mid-distance race to be quite challenging. The $100,000 purse, with $20,00 going to the first place finisher, adds to mushers incentives to participate.
The Kuskokwim 300, Or “K 300” begins and ends in the city of Bethel, Alaska. Mushers race to Aniak along an old mail route that goes over and beside the Kuskokwim River, which the race is named after. Out of cities not connected to the major road system in Alaska, Bethel is one of the largest. Bethel is still considered a small community by many Americans standards, with a population around 17,000.
The historical trail route used for the race became the primary means of communication for the area shortly after the first Moravian missionaries arrived to the region. The remote terrain means that mushers often have to transport their dog teams and supplies to Bethel before the race.
Often each years top Iditarod finishers will have run the K 300 in January. The list of winners for the K 300 reads like a who’s who of past Iditarod and Yukon Quest winners. Past Winners of the K 300 include Jeff King, Susan Butcher, Martin Buser and Rick Mackey. Since the larger races are held later in the mushing season, the K300 is a good place for those interested in mushing to watch and see how strong a musher is that year. It is also a good race for mushers to gear up before the larger races, working out any problems or identifying strengths.