2017 Kuskokwim 300 Mushers

by Greg Lincoln

It is K300 week! Here are your mushers, good luck to all!

Ken Anderson, age 44, hails from Fairbanks. He has competed in the K300 seven times, the Yukon Quest five times, and the Iditarod 16 times. Ken placed first in the 2012 Kobuk 44, the Knik 200, the Tustenado, and the Sheep Mountain 150. Ken’s wife is musher Gwen Holdmann. They are the first husband and wife to complete both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. Ken’s family includes his wife Gwen and three children: Leif, Marias, and Lily. Ken races for Windy Creek Kennel, which consists of 35 dogs.

Tony Browning, age 59, is from Nenana. He has finished 11 K300s finishing in the top ten 9 times. In 2015 he finished 4th. He has been mushing for 38 years and has raced in the Kobuk 440, Nome Council 200, Nushugak 250, and Fireplug. His family includes wife, Marion, racing partner, Aaron Burmeister and handler, Tim McGiver. Tony races for Alaskan Wildstyle Racing, which trains 52 dogs.

Rick Casillo, age 43, mushes out of Big Lake. Rick’s 52-dog kennel is Battle Dawgs Racing. In his 13 years of mushing he has raced six times in the Iditarod and has competed in many mid-distance races. This will be his first K300. His family includes wife, Jennifer Casillo.

Rob Cooke, age 50, comes from Whitehorse, YT. During his 18 year mushing career he has raced in the Yukon Quest in 2013, 2015, and 2016, the Copper Basin in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, and the Iditarod in 2015 and 2016. He mushes for the 55-dog kennel, Shaytaan Siberians. His wife is Louise Cooke.

Richie Diehl, age 31, is from Aniak. He is racing in his 8th K300. He is the 2016 4th place finisher and was awarded the Humanitarian Award. In 2014 he won the Best in the West award with his 4th place finish. Diehl won the Humanitarian Award also in 2011. Races he has competed in include the Aniak 150, Sheep Mountain 150, and Paul Johnson 450. Richie was a rookie in the 2013 Iditarod. In 2014 placed 14th and won the award for Most Improved Musher. Richie mushes for his 50-dog kennel, Real Diehl Racing. His family includes parents, Dave and Esther, sisters, Rainy, Dana, Holly and girlfriend, Emerie.

Paul Gebhardt, age 60, is the 2011 K300 Champion. He has raced 15 times finishing in the top 10 ten times. He is a 20 time Iditarod competitor and was the runner up in 2000 and 2007. His other mid-distance race wins include the Copper Basin 300 and Tustamena 200. Paul’s family includes one daughter, Kristin, and girlfriend Whitney.

Paul is racing for Morning View Kennel, which currently has 74 dogs.

Victoria Hardwick, age 31, is a Bethel musher. This year she is a rookie the K300. She has competed in many local races over the past 2 years including the Akiak Dash and Bogus Creek 150. She is the 2015 Bogus Creek 150 Rookie of the Year, she finished 5th. Hardwick races for Old Friendly Dog Farm in Bethel, which has 20 dogs.

Jessie Holmes, age 34, hails from Nenana. In 2014 he competed in the K300 placing 19th. He most recently won the 2016 Yukon Quest 300 in record time. He has been mushing for 10 years and races for Can’t Stop Kennel which has 40 dogs.

Jackie Larson, age 46, is a Napskiak musher. He mushes for LJ Kennel with 21 dogs. Jackie is the 2007, 2015, and 2016 Bogus Creek 150 Champion. In his 10+ years mushing career he has competed in the K300 in 2009, 2010 and 2011. His family includes wife, Michelle and children, Alex, Charlotte, Rebecca, and Jackie Jr.

Roger Lee, age 53, is from Wasilla. He has been mushing for 3 years. He has raced in the Copper Basin 300 (2016), the Northern Lights 300 (2016), Knik 200 (2015), and the Alpine Creek Excursion (2015). He races for Team Janssen, which has 42 dogs. His family includes his wife, Camille Johnson, mother, Winifred ‘Pat’ Lee, parents-in-law, Don and Elaine Johnson, and his Alaskan family, Melody and Ronald Stokes.

Pete Kaiser, age 29, hails from Bethel, the home of the K300. He is the back-to-back 2015 and 2016 K300 Champion. Kaiser is the first K300 triple crown winner, having also won the Bogus Creek 150 in 2008 and the Akiak Dash in 2005. Pete has competed in the K300 eight times. He earned the Best in the West award four times (‘09,’13 ’15 and ‘16), Sportsmanship Award in 2010 and has finished in the top 10 in seven of his eight finishes. Kaiser is a 7-time Iditarod finisher which includes three top 10 finishes (‘11, ‘12 and ‘16). Kaiser was the 2013 Paul Johnson Memorial Race Champion and 2011 Kobuk 440 Champion. His family includes wife Bethany, 4 year old son Ari, mom Janet, father Ron, and sister Tillie. Pete races for Kaiser Racing Kennel.

Jeff King, age 60, holds the record for the most K300 wins in the history of the race. He won the titel in ’91, ’92, ’93, ’97, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’06, and ’13. King has competed in the K300 20 times and has never finished lower than 8th. He is a four-time Iditarod champion, and has also won the Yukon Quest. King’s family includes 3 daughters, Cali, Tessa, and Ellen, and one grandson. Jeff races for Husky Homestead, he has 50 dogs.

Jason Mackey, age 45, is from Salcha. His mushing career began when he started running junior races back in 1983. After four Jr. Iditarod’s and four Jr. World Championships, he went into distance mushing. He has competed in five Iditarods and many mid-distance races. His family includes wife, Lisa and sons, Jason and Patrick. He is brother of fellow musher Lance Mackey and son of Iditarod Champion Dick Mackey.

Patrick Mackey, age 25, is from Salcha. He dad is K300 musher Jason Mackey who is also racing this year. This is his second K300. He competed in 4 Junior Iditarod’s and the Tug 150. His family includes dad, Jason, mom, Lisa, brother, Jason, son, Elim Mackey, and girlfriend, Marissa Morlock. He is also the nephew of fellow K300 competitor Lance Mackey. Patrick races for Team Mackey Racing Kennel, which has 50 dogs.

Wade Marrs, age 26, is from Willow. This is his first K300. He is a top five finisher in the Iditarod. He races for Stump Jumpin’ Kennel, which has 40 dogs. His family includes girlfriend Sophie and their team of Alaskan Huskies.

Hugh Neff, age 49, mushes out of Tok. Hugh has competed in 26 thousand-mile races since 2000. He was the 2012 Yukon Quest champion, and the 2004 Iditarod Rookie of the Year. He placed 2nd in the 2013 and 2014 Yukon Quest, and 5th in the 2015 Quest. He has also competed in the Kobuk 440, Copper Basin 300, Finnmarkslopet, and Knik 200, among many others. This is his 6th time competing in the K300. Neff races for Laughing Eyes Kennel, which has 40 dogs.

Nicolas Petit, age 36, comes from Girdwood. This year is his 2nd K300. He won the Humanitarian Award in the 2015 Iditarod, Most Improved Musher in 2013, and Rookie of the Year in 2011. He has also run the Copper Basin 300 in 2015, 2014, and 2013. Nicolas races for Girdwood-based Team Petit, which has 24 dogs.

Ray Redington Jr., age 41, is from Wasilla. He has competed in the Knik 200, the Copper Basin 300, the Tusto 200, and the Kobuk. He has also raced in 15 Iditarods and four previous K300’s. He races for Redington Kennel, which has 40 dogs. His family includes wife, Julia, daughter, Ellen, and son, Isaac.

Brent Sass, age 36, is from Manley Hot Springs. He has been mushing for 13 years. He has competed in the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest, the Copper Basin 300, and the K300. He was the 2015 Quest Champion and the 2012 Iditarod Rookie of the Year. Sass races for Wild and Free Mushing and has 55 dogs in his kennel.

Ramey Smyth, age 41, was born and raised in Alaska. He is the son of Iditarod mushers Bud Smyth, who raced in the first Iditarod and the late Lolly Medley who raced in the second Iditarod. Ramey has lived all over the state but says he moved to Willow to put down roots and build a home for his family. Ramey has raced the Iditarod 20 times placing in the top 10 nine times. He won the Kuskokwim 300 in 1995 and has raced in, and won, many other events throughout the state. He is a full time log home builder and owns and operates Smyth Logwork and Construction in Willow. He operates Smyth Racing Team-Homestretch Kennel, which is 70 dogs strong, with his wife Becca Moore and their children, daughter Ava and son Banyan.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, age 30, races out of Willow. He is originally from Norway, but races and trains for Racing Beringia out of Willow. Since he began mushing in 2007, Ulsom has won the 2012 and 2014 Nadezhda Hope, placed 2nd in the 2014 Knik 200, 6th in the 2016 Iditarod, 6th in the 2015 Iditarod 4th in the 2014 Iditarod and 7th in the 2013 Iditarod where he also took home Rookie of the Year. In his past K300s, he has finished 3rd in 2016, 5th in 2014, and 7th in 2013. Ulsome has also competed in the Finnmarks Lopet Fermunds Lopet, Ammundsen, Top of the World 300 and the Yukon Quest. 

Isaac Underwood, age 36, is from Aniak. He is competing in his 5th K300 and has been mushing for 30 years. He raced in the Aniak 150, Bogus Creek 150, Akiak Dash, and many local races. Isaac won the 2014 Walter Williams memorial race in Akiak. Isaac races for Underwood Kennel, which has 40 dogs.

Mike Williams, Jr., age 31, is a local musher from Akiak. He is racing in his 11th K300. Mike finished a career-high 2nd in 2011. He won the Best in the West award in both 2010 and 2011. Williams, Jr. had competed in the Iditarod, the K300, the Kobuk 440, the Bogus 150 and many local races. Mike’s family includes wife, Phyllis, sons, Paeton, Dan, and Kohle, and daughter Anna. Mike mushes for the 60-dog Williams Racing Kennel.