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With Iditarod Finished, Race Season Continues with Kobuk 440

Past Iditarod champion Jeff King with his team in Shungnak during Kobuk 440. Photo: Francesca Fenzi, KNOM (2015)

The 2019 Iditarod is officially over, with the Red Lantern musher, Victoria Hardwick of Bethel, crossing the finish line in Nome Monday before 2pm. Now, some of this year’s Iditarod field turn their attention to another dog sled race in Western Alaska, the Kobuk 440.

According to Kobuk 440 race staff, as of yesterday (Tuesday), 18 mushers had started or completed the registration process, although their 2019 roster has not yet been updated. That leaves two spots left before the 20-musher cap is reached. Once the early entry deadline is over tomorrow (Thursday), the price goes up to compete in this year’s Kobuk 440.

Among those signed up are Nic Petit, last year’s Kobuk champ; Jessie Holmes, who finished the 2019 Iditarod five seconds behind Lance Mackey; and Jeff King, who finished the 1,000-mile race in 13th place.

This year’s Kobuk 440 competitors also feature a husband-wife duo for the second year in a row, Olivia Shank (Neff) and Hugh Neff. Hugh was barred from entering the Yukon Quest and Iditarod this year, due to concerns over the death of his dog Boppy in the 2018 Quest. Neff has raced in ten runnings of the Kobuk 440.

The total race purse to be divvied up by this year’s finishers is $55,000, which is only about $4,000 more than what Pete Kaiser received for winning the 2019 Iditarod. In comparison, Iditarod had a total race purse of $500,000 this year, with $51,299 going to first place.

The 2019 Kobuk 440 starts in Kotzebue on April 4, a week earlier than normal.

Image at top: Past Iditarod champion Jeff King with his team in Shungnak during Kobuk 440. Photo: Francesca Fenzi, KNOM file (2015).

Correction: an earlier version of this story misstated the name of the race in the headline (“Kobuk 400,” rather than “Kobuk 440”). The error has been corrected.