21 Mushers to run 41st Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race

by Delta Discovery Staff

The Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog race is this Friday, January 17th. There are 21 mushers currently signed up for Alaska’s premier mid-distance sled dog race that will begin on the Kuskokwim River in front of Bethel, then up the Kuskokwim to Aniak, and then back to Bethel.

Race Routing:

The race will start on the river in front of Bethel. Mushers will head up to Akiachak then Akiak and on up to Tuluksak. From there it will be the traditional route through Aniak first before doing the Whitefish Lake loop.

As of Sunday, upcoming K300 mushers Nicolas Petit and the reigning K300 Champion Matthew Failor were racing the Copper Basin 300 which started on January 11th, 2020 in Glennallen in -44˚F temps.

2020 K300 racers Dennis Kananowicz, Wade Marrs, Nicolas Petit, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Aaron Peck, Matthew Failor, Jeff King, Lance Mackey, Travis Beals, Aaron Burmeister, Ramey Smyth, and Paige Drobny, Richie Diehl, and the reigning Iditarod Champion Peter Kaiser are currently signed up for a run in the 2020 Iditarod.

2020 K300 Mushers

Dennis Kananowicz, age 43, hails from Glennallen, AK and is originally from Illinois. He first began mushing in 1998 and has 28 dogs in his Outlaw Kennel. He placed 15th in last year’s Kuskokwim 300. Dennis first ran the K300 back in 2004. He also ran the Iditarod in 2004, the Tustumena 200, and the Copper Basin 300. He once worked as a handler for Charlie Boulding.

Wade Marrs, age 29, is from Willow, AK where has 35 dogs at his Stump Jumpin’ Kennel. In last year’s K300 he placed 8th and was given the Humanitarian Award. Marrs has been racing since childhood. His best finish for the Iditarod was 4th place in 2016. Wade finished in 10th place during the 2017 K300. He is proud to race for Turner Syndrome Awareness.

Nicolas Petit, age 39, is from Normandy but now lives in Girdwood, AK. Nic took 4th place in last year’s K300 and he won the Second to Aniak prize. In 2018 he took 2nd place in the Iditarod. He ran the K300 in 2016, placing 14th. In 2018 he won the Knik 200, Willow 300, Tustumena 200, the Copper Basin 300, and the Kobuk 440. He is the 2015 Humanitarian Award winner and the 2013 Most Improved musher for the Iditarod.

Dave Turner of Fairbanks, is the 2019 Tustemena 200 champion. This is his first run in the Kuskokwim 300.

Peter Kaiser, age 32, is from Bethel, Alaska and is the reigning Iditarod champion. He races for Team Kaiser and he is the winner of 4 Kuskokwim 300 races in a row, 2015-2018. He also has three 5th place Iditarod finishes: 2012, 2016, and 2018. Pete is a triple crown winner, having won the K300, Bogus Creek 150, and the Akiak Dash. In 2013 he won the Paul Johnson Memorial Race and in 2011 he won the Kobuk 440. He and his wife Bethany have two children, Ari and Aylee. He placed second in last year’s K300.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom is 32 years old. Joar was the runner up in the 2018 K300. He hails from Norway and Willow, Alaska. Joar has run the K300 five times, this year will be his sixth. His kennel is the 50-dog Sivu Racing Kennel in Willow. Joar is also the 2018 Iditarod champion, he has raced the Iditarod seven times. He also won the 2012 and 2014 Nadezhda races in Kamchatka, Russia. Last year he placed sixth in the K300.

Aaron Peck, age 41, will be racing his Elevation Sled Dogs team. He hails from Grande Prairie, Alberta in Canada. He began mushing in 1992. Aaron and his wife, Eva, and their two children, Clancy, 6, and Sonny, 4, live in Ranch Country outside of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Together they operate Elevation Dogs Boarding Kennel and Elevation Sled Dogs Touring and Racing Kennel. This is his first K300 race.

Matthew Failor, age 37, is the current reigning Kuskokwim 300 champion with his win in 2019. He is from Willow, Alaska where he runs his kennel 17th-Dog. He is originally from Ohio where he grew up with his three brothers – they all earned Eagle Scout honors. Matt is a former handler for Martin Buser. He first ran the Iditarod in 2012 with a team of Buser’s Happy Trails puppies. Since then, he has run the Iditarod every year. He also was a finisher in the Kuskokwim 300 in 2011, placing 9th and was named Rookie of the Year. He is the 2018 K300 Humanitarian Award recipient. This is Matt’s fourth run in the K300.

Richie Diehl, age 34, hails from Aniak, Alaska where he was born and raised. This will be his 12th running of the Kusko. His kennel, Real Diehl Racing has 50 dogs. In 2017 he placed 3rd, his best finish. In 2012 he won the Best in the West Award and the Humanitarian Award in 2011. He has raced the Iditarod seven times. In 2019 he crossed the finish line in 6th place, his best finish for the Iditarod. His family includes parents, Dave and Esther, sisters, Holly, Rainy and Dana, and girlfriend, Emerie. In 2019 he placed 7th in the K300.

Jeff King, age 63, is a nine time champion of the K300. His kennel, Husky Homestead, has 38 sled dogs. Jeff has won many other races – the Yukon Quest victory in 1981, and four Iditarods. He is also the author of “Cold Hands, Warm Heart: Alaskan Adventures of an Iditarod Champion”. In 2019 Jeff finished 5th in the K300.

Lance Mackey, age 49, is from Fairbanks. He is the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod champion from 2005 – 2009, and winning each four years in a row (and winning both back to back in 2007 and 2008.) Mackey will be racing his sixth K300 this year. His best finish was 3rd in 2010 where he also won the Humanitarian Award. Lance spent all of 2002 and 2003 recovering from stage four throat cancer, and returned to racing the Iditarod in 2004.

Travis Beals, age 28, is from Seward, AK. This is his first time running the K300. He has 60 dogs in his Turning Heads Kennel. In 2018 he placed 9th in the Iditarod. In 2015 he was named the Iditarod’s Most Improved Musher. Travis was also runner up in the Tustumena 200 in 2018. Travis is also a 2018 Mount Marathon race finisher.

Tony Browning, age 61, is from Nenana, AK. This will be his 14th run in the K300. His best finish was in 2013 when he came in second. He holds the most wins for the Kobuk 440. He has been racing for over 40 years.

Aaron Burmeister, age 44, comes to the K300 from Nome, AK. This will be his ninth K300. His kennel, Alaska Wildstyle Racing, has 38 dogs. He is a 2012 Humanitarian Award winner for the K300. He has also run the Iditarod many times since 1994 and will race again this year. Aaron’s best finish in the K300 was 6th in 2012.

Matt Hall, age 27, is the 2017 Yukon Quest Champion. He also placed 6th in last year’s Iditarod. He hails from Two Rivers, AK where he runs dogs from his Smokin’ Ace Kennels. He has 31 dogs. This is his first time running the K300.

Will Rhodes, age 41, makes his home in Two Rivers, AK with his wife Brenda Mackey – daughter of the legendary Rick Mackey. Will races with his 50 dog kennel, Mackey’s Alaskan Distance Dogs. Rhodes is three time champion of the Two Rivers 200. Will and Brenda have a daughter, Isabel. This is his second time running the K300.

Ramey Smyth, age 46, is from Willow, AK. He is a past champion of the K300, winning in 1995. He races with the Smyth Racing Team from his Homestretch Kennel, which has 70 dogs. This will be his 12th time running the Kusko 300. His top Iditarod finish was 2nd in 2011. He is also a two time Jr. Iditarod champion.

Jim Lanier, 79 years young, is from Chugiak, Alaska. In 1979 he ran his first Iditarod, which he wrote a book about, “Beyond Ophir”. In 2019, he completed the Yukon Quest. He has 24 dogs in his Northern Whites Kennel. He has 20 Iditarods under his belt. his This is his second run in the K300.

Joanna Jagow, age 26, is from Fairbanks. She placed second and third in the Yukon Quest 300 and placed 11th in the Copper Basin 300. She has 32 dogs in her Motley Crew Kennel. This is her first K300.

Dakota Schlosser, age 21, is the youngest musher to sign up for the 2020 K300. He is from Willow, AK. He placed fourth in the Jr. Iditarod in 2015 and 2016. He completed the 2019 Alpine Creek Excursion Sled Dog Race.

Paige Droby, age 44, runs her dogs out of Squid Acres Kennel near Cantwell, Alaska. She works as a fishery biologist and helps her husband, Cody Strathe, build dogsleds for our company, DogPaddle Designs, during the summer. Paige has run the Iditarod five times. Her best finish was last year where she placed 7th, winning the Most Improved Musher Award. Welcome to your first K300 race Paige.

Good luck to all the mushers! Have a great race!