The Kobuk 440 dog race began on Thursday with a mass stampede start on the ice in front of Kotzebue. It’s known as “the toughest race above the Arctic Circle.” This year there were 17 mushers participating including some big-name teams from the Iditarod and Yukon Quest. The race goes through seven of the eleven NANA region villages: Kotzebue, Noorvik, Kiana, Ambler, Shungnak, Kobuk and Selawik. The first musher arrived in Shungnak from Ambler at about 10:30 on Friday night. From here they went eleven miles up to Kobuk and then back again. There were a lot of people out to watch the mushers check in and each musher took time to draw the name of one of the local kids for an Easter basket.
For complete coverage and outstanding photos from start to finish, check out their Facebook page.
Here’s Pete Kaiser, the eventual winner. This 55-second, unedited clip gives a sense of how quickly he checked in and out of Shungnak. (Note how light it is at 11 pm.)
Mushers continued to arrive and depart through Saturday morning until 9 o’clock. The Kobuk 440 didn’t exist when we were here before so we were fortunate to be able to see both big-name and local mushers and teams of this caliber–amazing dogs!