September 11, 2020: The Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee announced plans today to proceed with a significantly modified 2021 race. Through some extreme changes to race logistics and associated events, the committee is confident they can put on a safe and exciting race. This developing plan is based on the current status of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region and may be changed if circumstances worsen or improve.
Each year, The K300 Sled Dog Race is a light in the dark of winter; one that brings communities up and down the Kuskokwim together and thrills mushing fans all over the world. Now more than ever, we could use a little light but it is not only fans who rely on these events. Sled dogs need to run and many mushers depend on prize money from K300 races to meet the expenses of operating a kennel. It is with these factors in mind that the Race Committee presses on.
To mitigate the possibility of an infected participant traveling to Bethel, the K300 is consulting with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation to develop a testing protocol for visiting mushers, handlers, veterinarians, etc. Visitors will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result from within three days of their travel date and each will undergo a rapid test upon arrival in Bethel.
Once in Bethel, mushers and their handlers will be offered lodging at a neutral site where they can remain isolated from the community. This replaces the long-standing tradition of community members hosting mushers in their homes. Dog teams will be kept at a central lot with 24-hour monitoring.
Indoor events in Bethel such as the bib number drawing and the awards ceremony may be modified in a number of ways but at a minimum, they will not be open to the public. Live-streaming will likely play a big part in how fans can participate in these aspects of the race. Race Headquarters will not be open to the public.
The race course itself will undergo some changes as well, though the exact nature of those changes will not be finalized until trail conditions can be observed. Typically, mushers pass through and rest in the village checkpoints of Tuluksak, Kalskag and Aniak. As race time approaches, the K300 Race Committee is committed to working with the leadership of each of those communities to ensure the health and safety of their residents. If necessary, the Committee is prepared to have a race that does not enter any of the villages at all and instead utilize temporary camps for checkpoints.
Committee members also believe they’ll be able to host the usual slate of 5 local races this winter, with some modifications, as well as the Akiak Dash and Bogus Creek 150, which are held the same weekend as the K300.
The 2021 K300 is scheduled to start on Friday, January 15th. Registration for the 2021 K300 will open on Monday, October 5th.
Since it’s start in 1980, the Kuskokwim 300 has never been canceled. This year’s race promises to be different than any other as we all confront unprecedented challenges, but the Race Committee will continue with the work of bringing the Y-K Delta, mushers and mushing fans a safe and exciting 42nd Annual K300.