Allen and Aliy just came home from the last race of the season: The 34th Annual Koyukuk River Championship.
The race was a two day sprint race held during Spring Carnival in a village just north of the Arctic Circle. Two villages hosted the event. Allakaket, which is an Athabascan Indian village on the Koyukuk River (population 100) and Alatna, a smaller Eskimo village, on the other side of the river (population 35.)
Aliy spent many of her formative years of dog mushing in and around this area nearly 20 years ago. In fact, her first dog race ever was an Allakaket Christmas Race. Many of the dogs in the kennel today are related to a dog named "Fats" who originally came from Steven Bergman of Allakaket.
The Koyukuk River Championship or KRC is held annually in different villages along the Koyukuk River. The dog teams, race marshall, time keepers and handlers come from villages as far as 300 miles away for the event. Transportation is all by snow machine or airplane and accommodations are the cozy, friendly cabins of the locals. Hot coffee, caribou stew and beaver meat were on the stove in every home for visitors.
The KRC was in memory of three great men who passed recently. One of those men was a dear friend to Aliy and Allen. Harvey Williams. He will be missed. Aliy raced the KRC in his honor.
The KRC is a sprint race. SP Kennel has DISTANCE dogs. The two do not usually go hand in hand! The race was a two day event running an 18 mile course each day. The course was hard packed except for several miles of wind blown river trail. Aliy borrowed a sprint sled and hooked up a 14 dog team: Olivia, Quito, Nacho, Beemer, Scout, Scruggs, Chica, Mac, IV, Ranger, Willie, Sissy, Fang and Biscuit and averaged over 15 mph. Aliy and Allen were shocked at how fast they raced. The team came in 5th place out of 9 teams.
Aliy and her "Indian Mama" 84 year old Lydia Bergman
All the race sleds were waxed!
Wall Tents set up to warm race spectators.
Steven Bergman waters his dogs before the race start.
Pollack Simon Sr has had a dog team for 61 years in this spot.