Mushers gather to celebrate 2020 K300 with banquet, awards

Loreen Steeves attended the K300 Awards Ceremony last week where she was recognized for her 41 years of volunteering and cooking at the Kalskag checkpoint. photo by Bev Hoffman

by Delta Discovery Staff

Mushers who raced in the Kuskokwim 300, the Bogus Creek 150, and the Akiak Dash came together for one last gathering to wrap up the Kuskokwim 300 race week last Monday.

After a mushers meeting, musher families, volunteers, and community members joined the K300 Race Committee for a banquet fit for kings before the awards ceremony.

There was crockpotted roast beef, a spicy Asian-style salad, smashed potatoes, dinner rolls, cakes, apple pies, and other desserts, plus pop and water. Guests at the dinner praised the homecooked food made by local chef Tiffany Tony of Ravenous Enterprises.

Emcee for the night was Andy Angstman. He introduced the first speaker.

Akiak Dash Race Marshal Bill Eggiman started off the awards ceremony with a few comments. The awards began with the Red Lantern award and then on up to first.

“It’s good to be back on the sled after a good break,” said 7th place finisher Jackie Larson of Napaskiak. “It takes a huge amount of devoted volunteers. Myron (Angstman), I can’t thank him enough for keeping dog mushing alive in the Kuskokwim region.”

“Awesome race, thank you K300,” said Dash champion Greg Larson of Napaskiak. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to slow my dogs down. They want to go fast.” He said that he was thinking of racing in the Bogus next year.

K300 Race Director Paul Basile took a few moments to give high accolades to all the volunteers at headquarters, the trail markers, truck support folks, and the checkpoint crews.

Next were the awards for the Bogus Creek 150. Race Marshal Luke Vanasse spoke about the chili and the Swedish fire logs at the checkpoint before congratulating the mushers. “Thanks for all the legends that come out here to go mushing in Bethel,” he said.

This year there were 7 teams in the race this year. The Race Committee had budgeted for 15 teams. In the end, the extra prize money was distributed among those who finished, which was everybody.

The Red Lantern award winner was Maurice Andrews of Bethel. He got approximately $8000 in prize money. The Bogus champion Matt Scott took home $11,946.

The Bogus Creek Rookie of the Year award was presented to Ryan Jackson of Akiak. He placed 5th overall and almost overcame losing his sled thrice, he said.

Last year’s winner Jason Pavila of Kwethluk finished in 3rd place this year. He won the 2019 race at age 15.

“I want to congratulate the mushers,” he said. “Without you guys there would be no races. Quyana.”

Special guest Loreen Steeves of Kalskag who has volunteered and cooked at the Kalskag checkpoint for 41 years was present at the ceremony. She had come up from Kalskag for the awards.

Angstman gave her a gift bag full of all kinds of K300 merchandise and also a round trip ticket anywhere Alaska Airlines flies, which she gratefully accepted.

“I am so impressed and very thankful. This was the first time in 41 years of volunteering for the K-300 that I attended the banquet,” she wrote. “I never expected anything, I just wanted to check it out since I never have before. I should have said something when Myron asked me but I was so nervous and ready to faint! Haha kidding. but I’ve never been comfortable with talking in front of a huge crowd. Thank you for the recognition, I am always willing to help!”

After the Bogus Creek race awards, there was the live auction. Folks had fun, laughing and bidding and outbidding each other for unique prizes such as sled dog rides with local mushers, photographs, and round trip tickets on Alaska Airlines.

Honorary for Life Race Marshal Nels Alexie of Bethel was also given special recognition as well as Jackie Klejka for her unwavering enthusiasm for the event. Participating villages were also thanked for their hospitality.

To start off the K300 awards, the Head Veterinarian and Alaska Airline’s Mike Trulin presented the 2020 Humanitarian Award to 26-year old Joanna Jagow of Fairbanks along with two round trip tickets.

“Oh my goodness, thank you so much. Awesome!” said Jagow. “I want to thank my dogs for such a wonderful race. I’m super proud of them.”

Each musher said a few words, thanked their host families, their crews, etc. as they accepted their awards.

Glennallen musher Dennis Kananowicz said his host family was wonderful.

“The K300 didn’t have to worry about me, I was picked up at the airport, dogs transported, fed well,” he said. “I love coming out here.”

The Fastest time from Bethel to Kalskag award was given to 9-time K300 Champion Jeff King from Northern Air Cargo. King placed 5th overall.

The five-time Kuskokwim 300 champion Pete Kaiser received a standing ovation as he came forth to accept his awards which included the Best in the West and the First Musher to Aniak awards, along with the $25K first place award.

“I feel very fortunate to be in this position,” he said. “I appreciate this community so much. Thank you to our sponsors. The best mushers are here … we have the best race in the world and see you next year.”

Live webstreaming of the awards ceremony was provided by the student Lower Kuskokwim School District Multimedia Team, quyana!