John Baker wins cold Kusko 300 sled dog race

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FAIRBANKS - John Baker brushed aside wind chills of more than 60 below zero to win the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race in Bethel.

Baker out-dueled Iditarod champions Martin Buser and Lance Mackey to take the top prize of $20,000.

Baker crossed the finish line Sunday evening with a team of 10 dogs in harness. He beat Buser by more than hour. Mackey was two hours back.

Baker has been mushing dogs for 15 years and runs a 35-dog kennel in Kotzebue. He is coming off a strong 2009 season in which he won the Kobuk 440, finished third in the Iditarod and fifth in the Kusko 300.

Sunday's victory was his first Kusko 300 win.

The Kusko 300 is the richest in mid-distance mushing with a $100,000 purse. A field of 13 teams left the starting line in Bethel at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Mitch Seavey, a former Iditarod winner from Seward, was scratched from the race on Saturday and several mushers remained on the trail early Monday.

Buser, a four-time Iditarod champion from Big Lake, took home $15,000. Mackey, the three-time defending Iditarod champion from Fairbanks, earned $10,000 for finishing third.

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