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Pete Kaiser secures sixth K300 win in scratchless race

Man kneeling next to slog dog team at end of race.

Pete Kaiser crossed the Kuskokwim 300 finish line at 7:59 Sunday morning, making him the 2022 K300 champion. Over 17 hours later, at 1:18 Monday morning, the race came to a close as John Snyder crossed the finish line in 16th place.

Kaiser has run a team in every K300 since 2009, and is no stranger to the winner’s circle. He’s won six of the last eight K300 races, and in the two years he didn’t win — 2019 and 2021 — he came in second. This win puts Kaiser only three short of Jeff King’s nine-win record, set in 2013.

The next two finishers, Matthew Failor and Richie Deihl, arrived in Bethel just minutes apart, with Failor checking in at 8:15 Sunday morning, and Deihl at 8:19. Failor and Deihl are both also familiar with the winner’s circle — Failor was the one to beat Kaiser in 2019, and Diehl took first place last year.

In fourth place, Travis Beals checked into Bethel at 8:46 yesterday morning, with fifth-place finisher Joar Leifseth Ulsom hot on his heels at 8:49. Cim Smyth, in sixth place, checked in at 9:01 yesterday morning.

Nome’s own Aaron Burmeister led the next group of mushers, finishing in seventh place at 10 a.m. sharp. Jason Pavila finished eighth at 10:26, making him K300 Rookie of the Year. Fellow rookie Gabe Dunham finished in ninth place just two minutes behind him, checking in at 10:28. Fr. Alexander Larson took 10th, checking in at 10:36, and Sam Brewer checked in at 10:39 to place 11th. Eddie Burke Jr. finished 12th, checking into Bethel at 11:22.

In 13th place, Lev Shvarts was this year’s first afternoon finisher, checking in at 1:36. Isaac Underwood finished almost three hours later at 4:16, placing 14th. Nate DeHaan took 15th place, finishing at 6:16 Sunday evening, and John Snyder finished 16th, checking in at 1:18 Monday morning. No racers scratched this year.

Overall, this year’s race went smoothly, with only one minor hiccup when Fr. Alexander Larson neglected to check in at Kalskag and was penalized 20 minutes. According to the K300 website, “Larson reported that he didn’t think he was required to go to the checkpoint because he had already fulfilled his rest requirement, but acknowledged his mistake and accepted the penalty.” Looking at the finish times, it seems that Larson’s error might have cost him eighth place. Jason Pavila, who finished eighth, checked into Bethel just 10 minutes before Larson, and Gabe Dunham, who finished ninth, beat Larson by only eight minutes.

As far as the dogs are concerned, the toughest leg of this year’s race was the inbound run from Kalskag to Tuluksak. Even with a mandatory four-hour rest break, only three mushers — Fr. Alexander Larson, Sam Brewer, and Isaac Underwood — left Tuluksak with the same number of dogs they’d arrived with. Every other musher dropped at least one dog in Tuluksak, with some dropping two or three. Eddie Burke Jr., who was the only musher to not drop any dogs until that point, dropped five dogs in Tuluksak. Overall, mushers dropped 25 dogs in Tuluksak, and a total of 56 dogs over the entire course of the race.

Pete Kaiser’s prize for winning this year’s K300 is $25,000, but every musher who finished will receive some prize money. With no scratches this year, it adds up to over $135,000 total.

Image at top: Pete Kaiser at the K300 finish line in Bethel. Photo courtesy of The K300 Race Committee. Used with permission.

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