Larson wins Akiak Dash sprint race

by Delta Discovery Staff

Greg Larson of Napaskiak has won the 2020 Akiak Dash Sled Dog Race! The Akiak Dash is one of three featured races during the Kuskokwim 300 race weekend in Bethel, which took place last Saturday, January 18th.

Racers in the Akiak Dash met on Friday night for their mushers meeting. Twelve signed up for the 65-mile out-and-back race to Akiak.

The race began with a mass start on the river in front of Bethel, then upriver through Steamboat Slough, past Akiachak, and then to the halfway checkpoint of Akiak. In Akiak mushers take a mandatory 1 hour rest before turning back downriver towards Bethel.

The Kuskokwim River ice road was a major thoroughfare with race fans, spectators, musher families, and snowmachiners going up and down the river’s trails. Temperatures were in the positive single digits.

Greg Larson led the sprint field, pulling into the Akiak checkpoint at 3:50pm. He snacked his dogs, petted each one, changed their booties, and fed them before taking off back down the trail to Bethel.

Greg’s mom was also on the trail to cheer for her son. She said that her family has been mushing from generation to generation. The younger Larsons are now learning the dog mushing life, she said.

Arriving second into Akiak was Joe Demantle Jr. followed by Mike Williams Jr. Coming in after were Gilbert Phillip, Herman Phillip, Jackie Larson, Isaac Underwood, Kurtis George, Solomon Olick, Tory Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Ayapan, Victoria Hardwick, and Abby Klager.

Klager arrived into Akiak at 4:47pm.

Akiak Dash Race Marshal Bill Eggimann was busy checking in mushers as they arrived. It was a busy scene with mushers, dogs, and handlers working on getting things organized for the run back to Bethel. Children played in the snow and in their family vehicles.

Mushers competed for $30,000 in prize money and for the experience of racing with the fastest sprint teams on the Kuskokwim. The forerunners neared the finish line after 7pm. Larson finished at 7:23:58pm in Bethel into the arms of his family. He tended to his dogs before being interviewed and photographed.

Coming in second was Joe Demantle Jr. of Tuluksak at 7:34:02pm. In third was Mike Williams Jr. of Akiak with a time of 8:05:20pm.

Taking home the Red Lantern Award is Victoria Hardwick of Bethel. She finished the race at 9:18:50pm. Just missing the Red Lantern award was Abby Klager. She finished at 9:16:05pm. There were no team scratches this year.

Mushers will be receiving their awards during the Mushers Banquet on Monday, January 20th in Bethel.

2020 Akiak Dash Race Results

Place/Musher Time In #Dogs

1 Greg Larson 19:25:35 7

2 Joe Demantle Jr. 19:31:41 7

3 Mike Williams Jr. 20:01:35 6

4 Isaac Underwood 20:03:47 6

5 Gilbert Phillip 20:05:08 7

6 Herman Phillip 20:09:45 7

7 Jackie Larson 20:20:11 6

8 Kurtis George 20:26:49 7

9 Solomon Olick 20:35:16 6

10 Nicholas Ayapan 20:50:11 6

11 Tony Fitzpatrick 20:53:57 7

12 Abby Klager 21:17:11 7

13 Victoria Hardwick 21:17:30 7