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After Two Pre-Race Withdrawals, 18 Mushers Ready to Take ‘Normal Trail’ for 2019 Kusko 300

A banner reading "Start/Finish" and adorned with antlers hangs over an icy, snowy field against a colorful sunset.

Two mushers have withdrawn from the 2019 Kuskokwim 300 before the race has even begun. According to K300 staff, Nils Hahn of Nome and Travis Beals of Seward will not compete in this year’s sled dog race after all.

Madelene Reichard, the race manager, says Beals chose not to race due to his lack of preparation before Friday night’s start. This would have been the Iditarod finisher’s first K300. As for Hahn, Reichard says the Nome Kennel Club member gave no comment as to why he took his name off the roster.

The remaining 18 mushers now have a chance for a greater split of the $160,000 purse. According to Reichard, the K300 purse is set up such that $25,000 will go to the winner, with incremental amounts given to the remaining top 25 finishers. However, since fewer than 25 mushers will cross the finish line, the leftover funds will go to whomever does finish the race.

The K300 race manager says the traditional route will be followed again, after last year’s race had to deviate and do two loops around a shorter trail without the usual checkpoints.

Currently, the trail conditions from Bethel to Aniak and back are padded with packed snow. Reichard says that last week, temperatures were down to –30°, but earlier this week, it warmed up and melted some of the snow.

As Reichard puts it, “whether that’s better or not is your opinion, but either way, there will be less chance of mushers going off the trail.”

According to KYUK, the starting line of the 300-mile trail has been moved up a few hundred yards due to a truck trail being plowed through the traditional start point.

The 2019 K300 begins at 6:30pm tomorrow in Bethel. On 780 AM and 96.1 FM, KNOM will provide a live, on-air race preview at 6:00pm Friday, with on-air race updates at 2:00 and 6:00pm Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. The K300 is expected to finish Sunday morning.

Image at top: the 2011 Kuskokwim 300 start/finish line in Bethel. Photo: KNOM file.