Failor wins K300 at record pace
Matt Failor set a new all time record in winning the 40th annual Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race in Bethel last Sunday.
Failor’s time of 36 hours and 32 minutes broke Martin Buser’s old record 37 hours and four minutes, which stood for 25 years. Failor, a 36-year-old musher originally from Ohio, now mushing out of Willow, started out in mushing as a handler for Buser.
Failor pulled off the win by edging Pete Kaiser, who had won the last four races. Kaiser pulled in 15 minutes after Failor. In his post-race interview, Failor noted that his team contains many dogs closely related to Kaiser’s team because of two past breedings with the Kaiser line. Later Kaiser jokingly noted that he no longer was allowing Failor breeding rights.
Nic Petit actually crossed the finish line moments after Failor, but was given a one-hour time penalty for leaving the trail near the end of the race and ended up fourth behind third place musher Jessie Holmes. Nine-time winner Jeff King rounded out the top five.
Spectators and race officials noted that the front-end teams were energetic at the finish line. Failor’s team was yelping to go within minutes of stopping, as was Kaiser’s.
Failor earned $25,000 for his win, plus a bonus of almost $1,000 awarded to each racer. The bonus comes from prize money not awarded because the field only contained 18 teams, while the purse is spread 25 places. That meant that last place finisher David Fitka earned $4,472 plus the red lantern. John George won Rookie of the Year, Wade Marrs won the Humanitarian award for dog care, and Matt Scott won the Spirit of the Kuskokwim award.
The trail and weather conditions for this year’s event were the best in years. Abundant snow melted down for a couple days early in race week, leaving a hard fast trail with good traction. Temperatures for the race stayed in the minus 10°F to zero range, with light winds until the very end of the race. By that time the winds were at the back of the teams, and provided a bit of a boost.
Fifteen-year-old Jason Pavilla won the Bogus Creek 150 as a rookie, becoming the youngest winner ever. For his effort he won at total of $11, 353 for first place, which includes his bonus and rookie of the year prize of $250. Race organizers are confident that his prize money is the largest ever earned by a 15-year-old dog racer in the history of the sport. Pavilla beat last year’s champion George Manutuli by eight minutes.
In the Akiak Dash, Terrel Andrews won by seven minutes over Joe Demantle, earning first place money of $5,550.