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.