“I’m really happy I won this race. Really happy. It’s my first time and it was my dream to win it,” said Wassilie.
The 47-year-old musher kept his team’s speed advantage throughout the race. He was first into the outbound Tuluksak checkpoint and never looked back. He tells KYUK that he struggled with his leader’s command skills, but the dogs delivered when they need to.
“They’re a totally awesome majestic team,” said Wassilie. “I like them.”Wassilie says the trail was generally good and fast, despite the warm weather making for tougher running. He did not come any significant water across the trail. He was first to Bogus Creek late Friday night for the mandatory four hour layover and only extended his lead after that. He rode a 20 minute advantage at the inbound Tuluksak stop to his first victory.
Kwethluk musher Harry Alexie was second into Bethel at 11:48 with eight dogs. He told KYUK that there was some slow going with the wind and heat.The warmth led him to go a bit more conservatively up toward the Bogus Checkpoint.
“But coming back, we changed leaders and tried to make up time, but we couldn’t,” said Alexie.
His team included dogs that were borrowed from Lance Mackey’s kennel. Those dogs had plenty of training in the interior where there was more snow. They also raced in this year’s Copper Basin 300. This is the best finish ever for the 36-year-old musher in the Bogus Creek 150.
In third place was Jackie Larson at 12:25. The 44-year-old Napaskiak musher finished with seven dogs in harness. While Wassilie had few complaints, Larson called the trail “horrible.”
“We battled everything,” said Larson. “The wind, rain, overflows.”
Larson said he had to stop and turn his team a few times after wind blew them off course. He said there could be a K300 in his schedule next year.
Napaskiak’s Johnny Evan arrived fourth in Bethel at 12:39 with seven dogs. He said that his dogs had limited training opportunities this winter but they ultimately made it after plenty of shorter runs. Bethel’s Casie Stockdale finished fifth at about 12:45. She says the last 20 miles were tough thanks to a sideways wind.
“You went from going 9 miles per hour to 6 miles per hour as you bump across the bare tundra. And then you get on the lakes and you’re going sideways until you smash into something,” said Stockdale. “”Pretty much everything hurts right now.”
In 6th place was John George of Akiachak at 1:23 p.m. 7th went to Soloman Olick who arrived at 3:25, and 8th to Joshua Klejka who finished at 4:24. Joan Klejka finished Saturday evening around 6:39. The 15-year-old is now an official Bogus 150 finisher. She had to overcome lead dogs that were turning around, plus frequently rough trails and strong winds. She says it was certainly different than what she trained in this winter.
“It was a pretty snowy trail compared to to what we’re used to,” said Klejka.
The final musher, Isaac Underwood, scratched outside of the Tuluksak checkpoint.
The champion Wassilie raced dogs out of Max Olick’s Bad River Kennel. The kennel traces its bloodline from Iditarod and K300 winners Jeff King and Mitch Seavey. Lewis Pavilla had planned to run the team in the Kuskokwim 300, but did not due to limited training opportunities. Wassilie then stepped in and raced the team with minimal training time with the dogs. Wassilie has earlier finished second in the Bogus Creek 150 and won the Akiak Dash. Wassilie takes home a winners check of $5,500 from the race’s $27,050 purse.