2024 K300 sled dog race registration opens
Registration for the premier middle-distance sled dog race in the world is open.
On Monday, Oct. 9 at 10 a.m., registration opened for the 45th annual Kuskokwim 300 (K300) sled dog race.
Paul Basile is the K300 Race Manager and has been in this role for the past five years. He said that registration is going fast. “We've had a really exciting response. The first few days of registration are always pretty busy. But we're at, I think, 22 teams signed up right now. Which is, as far as I know, the biggest first week of registration we've had. And, as always, a lot of great teams are going to be here for the race.”
According to the website, the 2024 K300 is scheduled to kick off on Friday, Jan. 26 and will span 300 miles of traditional trails along the Kuskokwim River from Bethel to Aniak and back.
Basile said that for the most part, the current registrants are a lot of the usual suspects that fans can expect to see, but he is pleasantly surprised by the new faces we will see compete.
As of Friday, Oct. 13, there are 23 teams signed up and Basile said they cap it at 30 teams.
“We have a young musher named Hunter Keefe who did well in the Iditarod last year. He's a 23-year-old guy, and he's gonna come out here and race for the first time. Another newcomer to the K300 is a guy named Joe Taylor. I think he's from Fairbanks. Jeff King is going to be back. He's not been here the last couple of years and has been racing less in recent years, but it's really exciting that he's going to be back,” Basile said.
King is a nine-time winner of the race. The first person to sign up was Iditarod and K300 veteran Travis Beals, whose top finish was fourth place in 2022. Norwegian Ebbe Winstrup Pedersen raced in the 2022 Kobuk 440, but this will be his first K300. Jessie Holmes has signed up and placed third the last time he ran the K300 back in 2019. He’s also a two-time Kobuk 440 champion and placed fifth in the 2023 Iditarod.
And then there are others who are household names in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
“Yeah, and several past champions, of course: Pete Kaiser, Richie Diehl, and Matt Failor. Brent Sass is going to be back. So yeah, as I said, it's, as always, a lot of the best in the business are going to be here, and it's gonna be a really great race,” said Basile.
One of the biggest reactions on social media was when Raymond Alexie registered.
"Yeah, thank you for mentioning Raymond. That is really exciting. You know he was, at the end of last season specifically, I remember at the finish line of the Akiak Dash last year, him being interviewed and asked if he planned to do the K300. And he was pretty coy about his plans. And he, you know, a couple times I heard him say he wasn't sure if he was going to race this season. So yeah, I think it's really exciting to see him taking that, that step to a bigger, longer race,” Basile said.
The 20-year-old from Kwethluk is staying focused.
“Doing good. I'm taking care of dogs. That's it. Like, feeding dogs and training them and whatnot,” Alexie said.
Alexie said that he has 19 dogs to feed and train to the pace of a mid-distance race.
“I started training in August and took a break. Like, a couple of weeks break in September because of our hunting, for the dog's food, for a bit,” Alexie said.
Alexie also said that because it's his first K300 he does not how he will fare, so his training method is still a work in progress. Alexie initially started with 3-mile runs and is currently working towards 9-to-15-mile training runs. His goal is to average 9 to 10 miles-per-hour and get his dogs used to that speed.
Last year, Levi and Apollo were Alexie’s lead dogs, but he’s still figuring out who will lead their team for their first K300. One thing is certain, the young musher loves to race.
“[Mushing is] like, therapy, whatever, like, you know, you're being out,” Alexie said.
There isn’t any snow on the ground yet, but for mushers and their fans, training and travel plans have already started.