Historic 2018 Kuskokwim 300 Complete; Kaiser Claims 4th Straight Win

Musher in heavy parka with fur ruff hugs sled dogs under finish line of the Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel, Alaska.

The 2018 Kuskokwim 300 was one for the history books, not only because of the unique trail route and conditions, but also because of this year’s winner.

KYUK: “This is making race history, in the 39 years of the K300, no musher has ever won the race four times in a row.”

Kaiser: “Yeah, I don’t know, it’s…(I’m) kind of at a loss for words, but it’s pretty cool to do that.”

KNOM’s partners at KYUK spoke to Pete Kaiser of Bethel, live at the finish line yesterday. Kaiser has won his fourth straight K300 sled dog race, making him the only musher in the race’s history to do so. Kaiser arrived into Bethel yesterday morning, crossing the finish line around 9am.

After completing his historic victory, Kaiser explained how difficult it was to run this year’s race trail.

“You know, we live out here and train out here, too, so we are a little more comfortable with it than most, probably, but it still didn’t make it comfortable. It was extremely tough, probably one of the toughest, if not the toughest race I’ve ever done. So, I’m glad we made it around in one piece, with the speeds that we did.”

Finishing about an hour and a half behind Kaiser was Joar Ulsom in second place. This was Ulsom’s best K300 result, improving upon his 2016 race, where he took third. The K300’s all-time winningest musher, Jeff King, took third place in the 2018 Kusko 300 as he arrived into Bethel at 1:19pm yesterday afternoon.

Despite dropping half of his team, Ray Redington, Jr., raced across the finish line with six dogs to take fourth place as of 2:11pm. Rounding out the top five was Matthew Failor, who finished less than 15 minutes behind Redington yesterday afternoon. Further details about all mushers’ finishes can be found here.

18 mushers started the race from Bethel to Bogus Creek and back, but six of them scratched before completing the two, 150-mile laps. The last musher to finish the 300-mile race was Isaac Underwood of Aniak, who came in at 9:34am this morning.

Most of those scratches happened at the Bethel halfway point, and according to Race Manager Madelene Reichard, the stop and restart at that checkpoint was troublesome for some teams.

“Having the Bethel halfway point, that was new. That added a new mental element of thinking you’re done but you’re only halfway. With how the trail looked, having the Bethel halfway point, made it a little bit easier for people to really consider the safety of the team and the safety of their dogs. So I think it was a good idea, and I think it was just another mental hurdle to work through.”

With only 12 teams finishing the 2018 K300, each musher will be going home with a little extra money from this year’s $150,000 race purse.

Kaiser will get $25,000 for his first place finish in addition to his share of the bonus money.

Image at top: Bethel’s own Pete Kaiser, who claimed a fourth consecutive K300 victory on Sunday morning, Jan. 21, 2018. Photo: Katie Basile, KYUK; used with permission.