Buser dropped to last, dinged with 2 penalties

Martin Buser has been dropped to last place and without prize money for this year’s Kuskokwim 300. The race committee made the decision yesterday after reviewing evidence of Buser committing two penalties: leaving the trail and receiving help to feed his dogs.

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Martin Buser at the 2016 K300 Mushers Meeting. (Photo by Chris Pike.)
Martin Buser at the 2016 K300 Mushers Meeting. (Photo by Chris Pike.)

Before the race, Race Marshal Nels Alexie warned the mushers that teams who veered from the trail would receive harsh penalties.

K300 Board Chairman and Race Co-Founder Myron Angstman says the board has steered away from giving penalties for most of the race’s history, even letting minor infractions go without comment. But Angstman says with the race’s growing status, the rules are tightening.

“The purse is getting bigger, the attention to the race is getting bigger, and the precedent would be that yes we do take rule violations seriously, especially in a situation like this where it impacts safety.”

According to the race committee, Buser left the trail inbound to Kalskag and did not return to the marked route even after a race representative intercepted him and told him to return to the trail or be disqualified.

Buser also allowed children to feed his dogs, which is against the rules.

In an email to KYUK and the race committee, Buser says he was following the markers when he got lost and started mushing through what he called “scary looking watery ice” on a busted sled. When the race officials met him and told him to go back to the marked trail, he said he had already tried to find it.

Ultimately, the race committee docked Buser from 14th place with $3,700 to last place with no money. Buser says he won’t return to the K300 as a competitor.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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