Mike Williams Sr. says anything can happen in the K300

by Angela Denning-Barnes on January 16, 2014

Mike Williams Sr., age 61, of Akiak

Mike Williams Sr., age 61, of Akiak

The 35th annual K300 sled dog race starts tomorrow in Bethel. Mike Williams Sr. of Akiak probably knows the K300 trail better than any musher in the race this year. He’s run it 25 times.

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“You know I’ve seen a brown out in White Fish Lake area and one year the wind was blowing and all I could do is follow the scratched trail from dragging the drag,” Williams says. “You know, I think we’ve had three perfect trail conditions on the Kusko in my history of my participation.”

Williams has mushed his whole life. He remembers being trained by his father, getting firewood with a small team of dogs. He knows that local weather can be anything from frigid sub-zero wind chills to a trail of glare ice or even standing water.

None the less, the training trail this season has been particularly poor. A lack of snow left icy trails and dirt for most of October, November, and December:

“It has been a real terrible training on ice…irregardless of that, it has been tough training,” Williams says.

As usual, the family kennel will have two teams in the race: senior running a novice yearling team and Mike Williams Jr. running the A team. He says Junior has been able to get in some longer runs near the village but not exactly what they were hoping for.

“He had to do a lot of long runs with four wheelers early on when we couldn’t do it on the sled due to dangerous trail conditions,” Williams says.

Even though Williams Sr. himself has competed in the K300 two dozen times, he won’t make any predictions. He knows anything can happen.

“Always nervous before the race no matter how many times you’ve done it,” Williams says. “You don’t know what’s going to happen out there. But when they say go, we’re going to go.”

Williams’ late brother, Walter Williams, ran the race several times before as well. Senior says the Williams family kennel has only missed the race four times in the 35 years it’s been held. To commemorate his brother, the K300 created the Walter Williams award, “The Best in the West” which goes to the best finisher from the region.

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