by Tommy Wells
Lewis Pavilla earned his place in the Bogus Creek 150 history books on Saturday morning. And he did it in historic fashion.
The Kwethluk musher raced his way to a record fourth Bogus Creek 150 championship at 11:07am by driving his team across the finish line in Bethel. En route to becoming the race’s winningest musher, he erased a huge 38-minute deficit at the midway checkpoint.
Pavilla held back over the first 150 miles of the race. After departing Bethel, he fell to the middle of the pack en route to the first checkpoint at Kwethluk. He checked in 10 minutes behind early leader Jim George, who covered the initial stage in 1 hour and 21 minutes. He slipped even farther into the standings over the next two checkpoints, sliding to seventh when he slid into Tuluksak.
Pavilla began picking up the pace from there. By the time he had mushed into the Bogus Creek checkpoint and began his turn back toward Bethel, he has moved up three places to fourth.
He never slowed from there. En route to Bethel, Pavilla moved to second and then, eventually, ran down the race’s leader, rookie Maurice Andrews.
He finished the race in a time of 18 hours and 7 minutes – finishing an amazing 18 minutes ahead of Niklas Wikstrand, who slid across the finish line at 11:25am. Andrews finished third overall at 11:30am with a total elapsed time of 18:30.
Competing in his first race, Wikstrand was driving a team of dogs from Pete Kaiser’s kennel.
With the victory, Pavilla passed Jackie Larson as the most successful Bogus Creek 150 race and, more importantly, pocketed a payday of $7,500.
“It feels good, a little frostbitten all over my face, I lost my dry face mask somewhere back there,” Pavilla told KYUK radio in Bethel.
George, another veteran Bogus Creek musher, finished fourth overall. He edged out Father Alexander Larson by approximately 10 minutes. Jacob Napoka won the Red Lantern.