Nome’s Hoogendorn brothers win debut season of ‘Race to Survive: Alaska’

The first season finale of Race to Survive: Alaska was held Monday, June 5 at the Katirvik Cultural Center.

This story was reported and written by KNOM reporter Ava White

Nome residents and brothers Oliver and Wilson Hoogendorn, competing as the “AK Boys” on USA Network’s Race to Survive: Alaska television series, took home the championship on Monday, June 5 during a watch party – and in front of a packed hometown audience.

The series finale was viewed by more than 100 attendees at the Katirvik Cultural Center.

After showcasing their win – which includes a $500,000 cash prize – in front of the standing-room-only crowd, they said this is what was most challenging.

“The most challenging aspect is shows probably starving for like 50 days.” The pair said. “100 percent.”

The first season of Race to Survive: Alaska aired starting in March of this year and showcased eight teams embarking on a competition to survive the Alaskan wilderness. The brothers competed over the summer across the 50-day survival course, becoming the first winners of the show.

The eight teams of two competed in six races over 100 miles of wilderness in rough and rural Alaska.

The brothers faced treacherous terrain and weather, but persevered and brought the win home to Nome. They said they needed each other more than anything else during the competition.

“It was absolutely necessary … I think with any other partner wouldn’t have gone as well, so I’m glad we had each other,” Oliver said, with Wilson adding, “If I didn’t have my brother as a partner, we probably wouldn’t have won.”

The teams were only allowed to use what they could carry on their back and used their wildland skills to make it through each race.

With their winnings, the pair say they plan to give back to the Nome community, and they thanked numerous family members, friends and supporters after the airing of the episode.

Image at top: The first season finale of Race to Survive: Alaska was held Monday, June 5 at the Katirvik Cultural Center. Photo by Ava White/KNOM


  1. Christine Reader on June 7, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    I missed the last show, so had to look it up Sooooo happy they won. Congratulations! I didn’t are for the brother/ sister pair I thought they used other people to much,

    • Tina Hallquist on June 10, 2023 at 5:26 am

      I totally loved this show. From the first leg of the adventure I was rooting for the AK boys. They are both so cute!! So skilled in the outdoors! Even with a few navigation mistakes they pushed hard. Congratulations AK boys for keeping the win in Alaska and making Nome proud! 💙🩵

  2. Erika Mays on June 7, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Congrats to AK Boys. You both are trailblazers for sure. Congrats to Max and Christian you guys are a whole force to be reckoned with. Thanks to all competitors. You all made Race To Alaska interesting must see show. Salute to you all.

  3. Carla Kilgo on June 7, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    Was glad these two won. Very humble and showed great sportsmanship. A tribute to their upbringing.

  4. Jocelyn on June 7, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    I am glad they won they were great.

  5. Monique Lopez on June 7, 2023 at 4:43 pm

    We were rooting for the AK boys! So happy they won. Their love for their state and each other made us so proud of them. Go Owen and Wilson!

  6. Julie Atkinson-Elde on June 7, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    Loved the show and the brothers were our favorites……Congratulations……Very Well Deserved…..Hard race!!!

  7. Becky Manross on June 7, 2023 at 8:49 pm

    What a race! And these two kept us coming back to the show each week. So glad they won–they earned it (& then some). Truly outdoorsmen who worked cohesively as a team (supported each other all the way through); a credit to their town, their friends, their family, & especially their mom!

  8. Kim Black on June 7, 2023 at 9:21 pm

    You could really see their tight brother bond from the first episode. They showed grit and determination under difficult circumstances and above all love for family! #akboysforthewin #nomefamilybond #raisedright #racetosurvivealaska

  9. Janet C. Hart on June 7, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    Loved the show! I was happy for the two of you because you worked so well together and stayed positive the whole time. I was in awe of how fast you two were and the bold steps you took to win i.e. running/swimming across the lake instead of taking the time to put on dry suits. Thank you for how well you represented the state of Alaska!

  10. Justin on June 8, 2023 at 8:52 am

    Outstanding willpower and unity!

  11. april on June 8, 2023 at 9:13 am

    I watched the entire thing, on the edge of my seat, rooting for the Nome guys the whole time!!!! Sooooo proud for you both! You ran a GREAT race and I hope you both are as proud of yourselves as your community is of you both. So, so happy you were the team to win, demsonstrating the strength of your bond and your Alaska heritage in this time and spage. Enjoy this win. Beautiful and Perfect!

  12. JUDY ANN BERNATH on June 8, 2023 at 11:08 am

    I’m here in Anchorage so of course I was rooting for the brothers to win!! They really worked well together not like some other contestents. CONGRATULATIONS BOYS!!!!

  13. Marylyn Carlyle on June 8, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    Congratulations to the two boys from Alaska. You demonstrated what teamwork really can accomplish. Your tenacity and good spirits demonstrated what teamwork should be. I personally am proud of you, and I’m glad that you demonstrated that Alaska breeds great young men.

  14. Terry Parker on June 8, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    I L❤️VED the Ak Boys. A tribute to their Alaskan upbringing, teamwork, and respect for each other and their fellow contestants. Those boys❤️they always had a smile. You guys made this Alaskan so very proud

  15. Paulette Levy on June 8, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    Congratulations AK boys! Was cheering for you both from day 1!

  16. Faith on June 8, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Love the AK boys – humble and fierce!!

  17. Gayle i on June 8, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    Watched from the beginning , you were both gifted, humble, talented competitors and I am soooooop happy you won, you deserved it..brought tears to my eyes…

  18. Gwen on June 8, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    I’m in Denali so excited they won. Congratulations!

  19. Karen on June 8, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    Congratulations! Our whole family enjoyed watching and we were cheering hard for the AK boys to win! Great race!

  20. Paula Bultman Jones on June 9, 2023 at 6:47 am

    The “AK boys” were my favorites from the start. So humble, so determined, so family oriented! Congrats for a well deserved win. (You worried me for about half a minute there).

  21. Daryl “PAPO” Navarro on June 9, 2023 at 7:08 am

    I’m happy that AK boys brothers Oliver and Wilson won the race. They are nice and kind and they deserve to win.
    Wilson is a happy spirited guy. Oliver is a McGyver I love how he was able to find a way to repair his BroKEN shoe and despite having some pain in his feet he’s determined to win. GOBLESS U AK BOYS AND THANKFUL UR THE WINNER OF THE RACE. Hope to know u more and maybe become friends with u guys. Add me on fb

  22. Christine on June 9, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    AK BOYS!!! You were my favorites from the beginning. You made Nome and Alaska proud! Congratulations!

  23. Kelly on June 10, 2023 at 8:34 am

    The Alaska brothers made me smile with their understated comments! Always so calm. The greatest reason I couldn’t wait to watch the show every week. Well earned. I hope to see you on another adventure. Congratulations!

  24. Jorge & Edna Silva on June 10, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Yay! You two are great! Happy you made it home safely.

  25. Paula on June 13, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    What is brand of running shoes you wore?

  26. Diana on June 17, 2023 at 7:29 am

    This boys kept me on my toes !! I can only imagine the pain on Wilson’s foot walking with a bad shoe… the starvation they had to endure, and the cold temperatures!! This will kill me for sure!!
    Way to go AK boys!!!