Raymond Alexie wins Holiday Classic sled dog race

Racers in the Holiday Classic are closely packed after the mass start on Sunday. Akiak musher Mike Williams Jr. won the race in 3 hours, 25 mins, 6 seconds. photo by Greg Lincoln

Raymond Alexie of Kwethluk won the 50-mile Holiday Classic this past Saturday in a field of seventeen mushers. He is 18 years old and races for the Alexie Kennel. He won first place with a 28 minute lead on second place finisher Jackie Larson of Napaskiak. In third was Pete Kaiser of Bethel.

The 8-dog limit race began near the mouth of the small boat harbor on the river in front of Bethel. Mushers raced up Straight Slough, then continued upriver on the Kuskokwim and then onto the Gweek River. The trail is heavily marked as far as the Akiachak Portage but as the race trail continues further up the Gweek markers are placed less frequently, said race organizers. At the 25 mile mark racers traveled around a well marked loop and headed back to the finish on the same trail.

Blowing wind and snow made for challenging conditions on the trail.

“Blizzard conditions hampered the end of the 50-mile Holiday Classic as Raymond Alexie cruised to victory with an elapsed time of 4 hours and 18 minutes. Jackie Larson finished second in 4 hours and 46 minutes followed by Pete Kaiser in 4 hours and 54 minutes,” wrote the Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee who sponsored the event. “At about 5pm, after several top finishers reported difficulty following the trail and concern for those behind them, race organizers made the call to instruct handlers to go out on the trail, find their teams and assist them however necessary to ensure everyone’s safety. Fortunately, all teams made it to the finish line. Thanks to the several volunteers and passers-by who went out on the trail in the storm and assisted those mushers who needed it. Thanks as well to the many who called to offer their help.”

Race sponsors followed protocols for safe covid-19 measures including requiring full vaccination against Covid-19 for all mushers, handlers and race personnel.

The next race is the Bogus Creek 150 on January 15th.

2021 Holiday Classic Dog Race Results

Place/Name Elapsed time Prize

1 Raymond Alexie 4:18 $2,430

2 Jackie Larson 4:46 $2,205

3 Pete Kaiser 4:54 $2,025

4 Jason Pavila 4:58 $1,845

5 Matt Scott 4:59 $1,665

6 Jim George 5:06 $1,530

7 Twyla Elhardt 5:17 $1,305

8 Fr. Alex Larson 5:18 $1,125

9 Fred Pavila 5:19 $945

10 Mike Williams Jr. 5:25 $810

11 Kenneth Snyder 5:42 $675

12 Keith Ekamrak 5:45 $540

13 Victoria Hardwick 5:59 $405

14 Spencer Wilson 6:41 $270

15 Leighton Wassilie 6:42 $225

16 Robert Charles 7:02 —

17 Anthony Olick 7:02 —