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Mitch Seavey wins K300 again

Sun, 20 Mar 2008 21:41 -900

Sterling Alaska musher and 2004 Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey has won the 29th annual Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race. Seavey has raced the K300 twice before winning the race in 2005 and earning a second place finish in 2006.

Seavey broke away from the pack of leader in the slippery trail section between Kalskag and Tuluksak. This section of trail was markedly different then what Seavey saw 30 hours earlier on the out leg of the race where deep snow and ferocious winds caused navigational issues. The warm weather and winds had reduced the snow pack substantially creating over flow and slippery conditions. Seaveys team stepped up to the challenge as they broke away from a group of 5 team who had all left the Kalskag checkpoint within 12 minutes of each other. By the time Seavey reached the Tuluksak checkpoint he had a 36 minute lead over the second place team of Ramey Smyth. That is a lead that Seavey carried through the remaining 50 miles of the race.

Big Lake musher Ramey Smith came in second place. Smyth previously won the K300 race in 1995. Coming in 3rd and 4th place were Kotzebue mushers Ed Iten and John Baker. Coming in 5th place was another Big Lake musher - Rohn Buser. The 18 year old Buser who graduated from Wasilla High School this past December will be running this year's Iditarod as a rookie and finished 4th in last years K300. Buser is son to 4 time iditarod and 2 time K300 winner Martin Buiser. Coming in 6th place was Rohn's father, Martin Buser.

K300 now being lead by Mitch Seavey

Sun, 20 Mar 2008 10:21 -900

Sterling Alaska musher and 2004 Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey pulled into the Tuluksak checkpoint at 9:30 this morning to stake his claim as lead team in the 2008 Kuskokwim 300 dogsled race. Seavey will now watch his competition arrive as he sits out the mandatory Tuluksak 4 hour layover. Seavey won the K300 race in 2005 and returned in 2006 to place 2nd to Jeff King. He did not enter the race last year.

Seavey will be able to checkout at Tuluksak at 1:30. After that it is a 50 mile sprint to the finishline in Bethel. Under idela conditions, he could arrive in Bethel between 8:30 and 9 pm.

John Baker pulls into K300 lead

Sun, 20 Mar 2008 06:54 -900

Rohn Buser in Aniak
Rohn Buser in Aniak

Kotzebue musher John Baker was commanding the first dogsled team to depart the returning Kalskag checkpoint in the Kuskokwim 300 race today. He wasn't alone however as he has 4 teams right on his trail and a few more further back that have some rest in the bank. Following Baker out of Kalskag all within 12 minutes were Mitch Seavey, Jeff King, Rohn Buser, and Ramey Smyth.

Of those 5, Rohn Buser spent the longest period at the checkpoint staying there a mere 19 minutes. The 18 year old musher from Big Lake is son to the Iditarod record holder Martin Buser and was first into the previous checkpoint at Aniak. Rohn chose to feed his team while in Kalskag to avoid the mistake last year when Jon Little's well fed team passed Rohn feeding his team on the trail after Kalskag knocking Rohn down a place in the standings. Now he has the advantage over the other 4 teams he is running with that chose not to feed in Kalskag.

Following Rohn Buser into Aniak was 4 time Iditarod winner and 8 time K300 winner Jeff King. Upon arrival, King immediately asked where Rohn was parked, perhaps providing us a sign about which team he is concerned about as he strives to win his 9th. In last years race, King was battling for the lead with another Buser at the return Aniak checkpoint, and Martin snuck out of Aniak when King grabbed a bite to eat gaining separation that King was never able to reel in.

Dee Dee Jonrowe in Aniak
Dee Dee Jonrowe in Aniak

2 other teams that have departed Kalskag with little rest in the bank are former race leaders Ed Iten and Hugh Neff. Teams currently catching a little rest in Kalskag are Martin Buser, Paul Gebhardt, and Dee Dee Jonrowe, however these teams arrived in Kalskag more then 45 minutes after Hugh Neff departed.

The wind has calmed down considerably since last night and teams are looking at far different trail conditions on the return leg then they exeperienced on the out leg a mere 24 hours ago. The deep snow has now settled in with the wind and the warmth and as such the trail is much more slippery.

10 teams out of Aniak

Sat, 19 Mar 2008 16:34 -900

Kotzebue musher Ed Iten has grabbed the lead in the K300 leaving Aniak on the outbound leg at 2:43 pm. He has 8 other teams in close pursuit. minutes later, 18 year old Big Lake musher Rohn Buser departed Aniak. This is Rohn's second go at the K300 and so far he is running a similar race as he left Aniak in the lead last year. In close pursuit another 3 minutes back is Dee Dee Jonrowe. Jonrowe is returning to the first dog race she ever ran back in 1988 when she still lived in Bethel. She finished 5th that year.

The next team to leave Aniak was that of Hugh Neff 4 minutes after Jonrowe. Mitch Seavey left at 3:13 20 minutes after Neff and 30 minutes behind the leader. Each of these teams took very short stays in Aniak since all of them had taken their 6 hour layovers 30 miles back in Kalskag. Jeff King took his 6 in Kalskag as well, but he stopped in Aniak for 25 minutes so he could make repairs to his sled. He was able to procure a 5/16th nut for the repair and departed Aniak at 3:37 54 minutes off the lead. Departing Aniak 17 minutes later in 7th place was Martin Buser - 4 time Iditarod winner and father to 2nd place musher Rohn Buser. 3 Mushers are right on Martin's tail - John Baker (3:49), Ramy Smyth (3:50), and Dave Decaro (3:51). Decaro is running King's second team.

With the halfway point coming up at the Pike Lake turnaround, there are 10 teams within 1 hour and 8 minutes of the lead.

Gebhardt leads K300

Sat, 19 Mar 2008 13:31 -900

Paul Gebhardt became the first musher to reach the Aniak checkpoint in the Kuskokwim 300 (K300). Gebhardt has not taken his mandatory 6 hour layover yet and there are other teams that have already taken their who are enroute to Aniak.

Paul Gebhardt pulling into Aniak
Video by Storm Phillips

Paul Gebhardt's busted sled
Paul Gebhardt's busted sled

Gebhardt said he had planned on pushing further on in the race before taking the 6 hour layover, but when he pulled into Aniak with a broken sled, he elected to take his layover there while he made repairs. Also into Aniak 30 minutes after Gebhardt is Sebastian Schnuelle. Schnuelle has not taken his layover yet either but will be taking it now in Aniak as he wants to keep Gebhardt in his sights. Schnuelle dropped his lead dog "Popcorn" in Aniak.

Still on the trail between Kalskag and Aniak with their 6 hour layovers already accounted for are 18 year old Rohn Buser and perennial top 10 Iditarod racer Ed Iten. Rohn hopes to use this race to help qualify for a run at the Iditarod this March as a rookie. Also in that group with the layover complete is 8 time K300 winner Jeff King. Further back on the trail is Rohn's legendary father Martin Buser, however Martin has stated that Rohn has the faster dogs in this race. The trail between Kalskag and Aniak is currently some difficult travel as the temperatures are warm, the snow is deep, and the trail keeps drifting over with some stiff winds.

Aniak Airport is reporting 30 to 50 mile per hour winds, and sections of the trail would be headed straight into it. When asked about the wind, Schnuelle who trains a lot in wind reported that it was no fun at all. There is also significant areas of overflow in sections due to the warm temperatures. As the afternoon sun warms the snow, drifting will become less of an issue, and the trail should improve for teams farther back in the pack.

K300 field set at 21

Mon, 14 Mar 2008 15:11 -900

Weather permitting, the 29th annual Kuskokwim 300 (K300) dog sled race will begin in Bethel, Alaska on Friday January 18th. The start of the race has been delayed four times in the past due to frigid temperatures. This race is regarded as a premier middle distance event and often used as an Iditarod tune-up for elite mushers. The $100,000 in prize money with $20,000 going to the first place finisher helps attract a strong field as well. This year’s field has plenty of Iditarod racing veterans including Jeff King, Paul Gebhardt, Mitch Seavey, Martin Buser, Ed Iten, Dee Dee Jonrowe, and Hugh Neff. Among the favorites to win is 4 time Iditarod and 8 time K300 winner, Jeff King. King finished last years K300 in second place in an epic duel with winner Martin Buser.

Also predicted to finish high is last year’s K300 winner and 4th place finisher, the father-son teams of Martin and Rohn Buser. Rohn will hope to use this as a qualifying run for a shot at the Iditarod this year as an 18 year old rookie, and certainly showed us in last year’s K300 as a 17 year old that he can run with the leaders. Another father-son duo entered in the race are Akiak mushers Mike Williams Sr and Mike Williams Jr. Once again, the race route passes Crow Village twice at the 133 mile mark on the out leg and at the 187 mile mark on the return leg. Last year, race leaders Martin Buser and Jeff King both elected to feed their teams on the Crow Village shore on the return leg shortly after they abruptly left the Aniak checkpoint. The course promises to be fast this year as some early season freeze and thaw cycles smoothed out the river ice and some recent snow fall added some cushion. As usual, the weather can easily become a factor.

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