Freezing cold temperatures didn't stop mushers and fans from celebrating the 38th Kuskokwim 300 weekend. Check out these moments captured over the weekend of January 20, 2017, from the start of the Bogus Creek 150 to the finishers of the Kuskokwim 300.
His was the team to beat and no-one could. Sunday morning for the third year in a row, Pete Kaiser won the 2017 Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race, crossing the finish line in Bethel at 10:37 a.m. to loud cheers from his hometown crowd.. His leader Palmer brought home the nine-dog team, 28 minutes faster than last year.
Victoria Hardwick has made it safely back to the Aniak checkpoint after being out on the ice in -40 degree weather for close to 15 hours. Hardwick has scratched and was assisted in getting to Aniak after her dogs would not move.
At around 10 o’clock Saturday evening at the Aniak check most mushers had made it though and were on their way to Kalskag, except for Victoria Hardwick and Rodger Lee. Hardwick, in her third year of mushing, left Kalskag after not getting much rest.
Increments of about 20 minutes separate the three front runners of the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race. Defending champion Pete Kaiser of Bethel arrived in Tuluksak, the final checkpoint before the finish, at 1:22 a.m. Last year’s runner up, Brent Sass of Eureka, arrived at 1:42 a.m. And Richie Diehl of Aniak, who finished fourth last year, arrived at 2:08 a.m. After a four-hour layover, the race to the finish will begin.
Bethel rookie Victoria Hardwick hasn't moved for a couple hours from a spot on the trail about 15 miles outside Aniak, as of 12:00 Sunday morning. Musher Roger Lee passed her on the trail and told crew at the Aniak check point that said she's stuck northeast of Whitefish Lake. She's been out there a few hours and couldn't get team moving. Late Saturday evening, Aniak checkpoint volunteers went on snowmachines to check on her as temperatures dip towards 40 below zero. The crews called to report Hardwick will push on. They brought her firewood to keep warm, but she did not except it.
Akiak's Cameron Jackson won his first Akiak Dash Saturday evening in subzero Bethel temperatures to prevail from a field of 13 team. Jackson, running dogs from the Akiak-based Jackson Kennel, finished behind a string of seven at 7:52, edging out a hard-charging Sean Larson of Napaskiak. Jackson crossed the finish line only two minutes in front of Larson, who brought in a team of six dogs. The 27-year-old has been mushing for more than a decade and has competed in many local races, notching his first major victory in the 2017 Akiak Dash. Larson crossed the finish line at 7:54.