Kuskokwim Swim - Get Ready for the Extreme

 

Here in the lower forty-eight, we have some pretty cool athletic events. Ones that are colorful, ones that are muddy, ones that include swimming, and biking, and climbing, and jumping.

But that all kind of looks like child's play compared to the Kuskokwim 300, a 300 mile dog-sled race that takes place in Bethel, Alaska every year. This year, Boulder Bibs had the unique opportunity to produce bibs for the race, and we were very excited to learn more about this Alaskan tradition.

This frigid and difficult trek starts out on a cold January evening in Bethel and runs along the Kuskokwim River on the way to the small village of Aniak. There, mushers turn the team around and head back towards Bethel. The entire race can last up to 62 hours, though this year's champion, Peter Kaiser, took the title in just 40 hours and 8 minutes.

Get Ready for the Extreme

The race is famous for its drastically unpredictable weather, sometimes hitting teams with freezing blizzard conditions and at other times slowing them down with rain and river overflow. This year's racers experienced consistently below-zero temperatures, with windchill dropping them down to nearly -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily for the mushers, teams of volunteers were stationed throughout the race to provide them with some warm food and shelter from the cold for their very short resting period.

At the finish line, families waited in running cars to spot the incoming sled teams, ready to jump out into the cold with posters and plenty of hot chocolate. The top finishers all walked away with a portion of this year's race purse, which climbed to $150,000.

Yet, what fans of the Kuskokwim Swim can all agree on, is that the true value of this weekend is the chance to enjoy a friendly competition in the great little town of Bethel.