More than 20 teams are signed on to compete for the $22,000 first place prize in the K300 Sled Dog Race. Not bad for a race that takes, on average, about two days to complete. A couple of local favorites, the Williams of Akiak, will be competing.
54-year old local mushing legend, Mike Williams Senior, has finished 23 K-300 races. This is his 25th. His best finish was fifth place in 2002, and he placed in the top ten in nine other years. Mike senior has also raced and finished the Iditarod 14 times. He says despite the competitive racing aspect of owning a kennel of sled dogs, keeping the tradition alive of caring for a sled dog team is worth it.
M.Sr. Cut 3 “no matter if we’re racing or not racing, we’ll just continue to take care of the animals that are very special to us, and it’s a way of life, it’s aam, amazing what the dogs can do and that’s what we live for and train for.” :16
Mike Williams Junior is Mike Senior’s 27-year-old son, and Junior is making a name for himself in the dog-mushing world. In the 2011 K300, he placed second by just one minute. He’s won the race’s Best in the West award twice. And he’s finished the Iditarod twice as well, taking 8th place last year.
M.Jr cut 3 “I was kinda born into it, my dad’s been mushing all his life, I grew up knowing dogs, and of course my dad and my uncles would take me out on runs, and I grew a love for it, and stayed with it and it’s pretty much all I wanted to do.” :15
Both Mike’s say that keeping 60 sled dogs takes a lot of work from each of them, and that they couldn’t manage without the support from family and friends. Here, they describe a typical day:
Cut 1 M.Sr. “ that’s what we live and train for, and aah it’s a big challenge trying to keep the dogs fed.” :07
cut 2 “365 days, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.” :04
M.Jr. cut 2 “the first thing I usually do is pack water, and chop up some fish and cook that fish for soup in the morning, usually after that I chop up more wood, fish, and meat and aam cook their main meal in an old drum over the fire.” :18
A daily 15 to 20 mile training run follows the main meal, which they run separately.
This year, the Williams’ started training a little later than usual. Travel for everyone near Bethel was delayed this year because trails were all ice and no snow; and it was no different for the Williams’ training their teams. Again, Mike Junior.
M.Jr. cut 1 “we had a little down time, icy and raining, I didn’t run the dogs as much as I liked to this fall, due to the high water and erosion we had this past summer, other than that trainings been really good and I’m happy with where we’re at.” :23
Mike senior says they both have healthy teams, which are veterans of last year’s K-300 and Iditarod.
M.Sr. cut 4 “he has a pretty good shot at doing well, but don’t count me out.” :05
Sophie Evan, KYUK news.