Underwood of Aniak wins 100 Mile Challenge Sled Dog Race

Isaac Underwood is the 2021 100-Mile Sled Dog Race Champion! He won the race on Saturday, March 13th, 2021 with eight dogs in harness on the river in Bethel. He made it to the finish line at 7:22pm. At left is Isaac's dad Nathan and his lead dog is 2-year old Charlie. This is Underwood’s second big win for the Kuskowkim races. photo by Greg Lincoln

by Delta Discovery Staff

Isaac Underwood, the 100-Mile Race Champion, gathers up his team’s harnesses after finishing the race last Saturday. There were seven mushers participating in the event. Photo by Greg Lincoln

Isaac Underwood is the winner of this year’s 100-Mile Challenge Sled Dog Race. Underwood raced his eight dogs to victory with 2 year old Charlie in lead on Saturday, March 13th, 2021. This is Underwood’s second big victory – he also won the February 50 race on Feb. 27th, 2021. For his win he was awarded $3200.

Underwood, mushing his team from his family’s Underwood Kennel of Aniak wearing bib #1, took over the lead approximately 30 miles into the race. He crossed the finish line at 7:22pm right when it started to snow. In a close second was 17 year old Jason Pavila running his team from the Bad River Kennel of Kwethluk. He finished at 7:35pm. In third was Jackie Larson of Napaskiak driving his LJ Kennel team. He finished at 7:59pm.

Snow kept coming and soon turned into a blizzard. Teams kept mushing on to the finish through the blowing snow. In fourth was Matt Scott of Bethel, followed by John Snyder and Walter George.

The Red Lantern Award went to Twyla Elhardt of Bethel. She finished the 100 miles at 10:38pm and took home $1950 for her prize.

100 Mile Challenge is sponsored by the Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee. Seven teams competed for a purse of $20,000. Note: with only 7 teams competing in the 100-Mile Challenge, each finisher received an extra $500 in prize money.

The race started at 9:00 AM on the river near the mouth of the small boat harbor in Bethel. Teams followed the K300 race trail for 23 miles to the top end of Kuskokuak Slough. They followed the same route as in the February 50, going upriver on the Kuskokwim from Bethel, upriver on the Gweek to the Akiakchak portage trail and then past the village of Akiakchak.

Mushers continued past the island above Akiachak and then to the Kuskokuak. They passed the mouth of the Kisaralik River while staying on Kuskokuak Slough to the portage trail across from Kwethluk.

From there, mushers continued downriver and then cross the Kuskokwim to Church Slough. The midway checkpoint was located on Church Slough near the point where the trail leaves the slough for the main river. The distance from the start line to the checkpoint is about 48 miles.

Teams spent a 2-hour mandatory layover at the checkpoint before returning to Bethel on the same route in reverse, finishing on the river near the mouth of the small boat harbor in Bethel.

There was also a Kwethluk Mushers Association sponsored sprint race happening on Saturday that followed the south bank of the Kuskokwim from Kwethluk downriver past the upper end of Church Slough. Due the timing of the events not much interaction was expected between the teams involved in the two races.

Next up is the final race of the K300 Race Committee season, a 50-miler slated for next Saturday, March 20th.