Kwethluk musher wins second K300 Season Opener
Raymond Alexie has done it again. The musher from Kwethluk won back-to-back Season Openers to kick off the second annual Delta Championship Series on Dec. 17.
Seventeen teams showed up at the start on the Charles Family Lake across the road from H-Marker Lake in Bethel.
The race was originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16, but was rescheduled for the following day due to inclement weather. Conditions were still challenging for teams on the trails leading to Atmautluak and back, even for Alexie’s dog team.
“It was kind of hard going north. Hard to see the trail for a bit until I turned around, but once I came back it was easier,” Alexie said.
Last year, Alexie finished the opener in just 2 hours and16 minutes, but this year it took him 3 hours and 22 minutes to complete the 32-mile race. Kuskokwim 300 race manager Paul Basile said that the times were slower than usual because of the recent snowfall.
“You know, any time there's a lot of fresh snow and there's been some wind, there hasn't been time for snowmachine traffic. Trails are just slow and soft. Racers also faced a pretty stiff headwind on the way out from the start. Probably all the way until the turnaround, I'd imagine,” Basile said.
Six minutes after Alexie completed the race, his father, Harry Alexie, crossed the finish line and took second. Two Akiachak teams were next: Kenneth Snyder got third place and Charlie Chingliak got fourth. Rounding out the top five was Jason Pavila of Kwethluk.
Alexie took home a check for $3,200, the top prize for the race, which had a total purse of $25,000 split amongst the top 15 finishers.
Basile said that the next race is the Holiday Classic, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 23, but that organizers are still working on the 50-mile route. Registration for the Holiday Class race opens Monday, Dec 18.