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Photos: Readying a Kuskokwim River ice road

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  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published January 14, 2015

BETHEL -- Village-based crews used a bulldozer and a repurposed 5,000-pound steel plate to clear a road through a huge ice jumble as communities up and down the Kuskokwim River prepare for the region's prime winter event: the Kuskokwim 300.

The sled dog race, with its biggest field in 20 years, begins Friday evening and caps a string of Kusko 300 events that include two other sled dog races, fireworks, a concert and a fiddle dance.

Organizers are trying to make the Kusko 300, the country's richest mid-distance sled dog race and one of the top races in the world, a draw for a region that sees little tourism -- especially in winter.

Zach Fansler, in his fourth year as race manager, said the eventual goal is to create a "destination weekend." A range of activities kicked off Tuesday evening with the start of an adult league basketball tournament.

But first, organizers had to make sure they had a safe trail for the main event.

Read more: Plowed ice jam sets the stage for this week's Kusko 300

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