Sunday, January 2, 2011

Letter From the Kobuk 440 Racing Association


The Kobuk 440 Sled Dog Race is a middle distance sled dog race that is held annually during the second weekend in April. It has been in existence for the past 25 years. It is the ultimate challenge for a dog musher. It is also a qualifying race for both the Iditarod sled dog race and the Yukon Quest. The K440 goes through 7 of the NANA Region villages. It involves bringing a lot of people together throughout the region during its course. The race starts on a Thursday afternoon and is usually over by Sunday morning.

We at the Kobuk 440 Racing Association are always trying to find methods of keeping the spark alive during the months before the race begins. This is to ensure that the countless volunteers that are needed during the race are ready when the time comes for the race to come through the village. One of the methods used is our Easter basket distributions to kids in the communities. We have a volunteer in each village collect names of children in the respective village. When a musher arrives he or she is required to take the time to pick a name out of the hat for a child to win an Easter basket. It is a great hit!

It also gets the musher to interact with the children within the community. The Association usually paid for the 200 Easter baskets needed for this incentive. Fortunately this year we were able to get a sponsor for this important part of our race. Another thing we do is give the local Search and Rescue Organizations within the villages a stipend of $ 750.00.This stipend is to ensure that the checkpoint is set up and manned. This is very important to these communities basically because of the price of fuel which in some of these villages, reach’s $10 to $15.00 a gallon. I would say that every village in this Region is involved with a major search at some point during the year. So that money does definitely is put to good use.
The villages of Noorvik, Kiana, Ambler, Shungnak, Kobuk and Selawik are awesome. They go out of their way to ensure that the race is successful. Some provide prizes to mushers such as, the first female musher to the village or maybe just the first musher to the village. It might be to the last musher to the village. We kind of leave that up to the village as to how they want to distribute the prize. These prizes are usually local made crafts such as marten or beaver hats, mitts etc. They also provide a community type potlatch at community halls or the Native village buildings for the mushers, trail crew and the community itself. It is quite the gathering! They also provide resting accommodations for the mushers and a parking area for the teams. We could not have the race without the village participation.
The Kotzebue checkpoint has recently put together the Arctic Circle Spring Festival. This will be a week-long event that is held the week of the Kobuk 440. We at the Association believe that it will be a huge boost for the Kobuk 440 as it will involve a lot more folks in Kotzebue to get a bit more involved with the race. That event is being put on by volunteers of the community. All of this effort does involve a bunch of funding. We at the Kobuk 440 Racing Association receive a major portion of our purse from the Kotzebue Dog Mushers Association. Our other source is sponsorship donations locally. Unfortunately, the Kotzebue Dog Mushers Association is experiencing management problems and hasn’t recovered as of date. For 2010 we managed to put on the race plus expenses for about $40,000.00. This is half of what we’ve been able to operate within the past. We did have a lot more volunteers this year and were able to cut some operating expenses because of that. Our annual budget has been about $75,000.00 in normal years.
We are looking for more funding this year and would actually like to find a major player to get involved with the race. Of course as much as we would like to see someone come up with a big dollar figure we are open to any donations for the 2011 Kobuk 440. We are willing to provide a major player ($30,000.00) or more a chance at a golden opportunity. And that is to share the name of the race. Other than that we can provide as much exposure via newspaper, radio and internet coverage as possible. Also attempt in any way possible, someone from your firm to check out the race in person and attend some of the festivities directly related to the race. There are a couple of sponsors that did make our race a huge success last year and one of those was SKW Eskimos Inc. They are a subsidiary of ASRC. They gave the Kobuk 440 $5,000.00 plus promotional items such as musher hats and some other items. Imagine that! The North Slope Corporation being such a huge contributor to the K440. Our other major sponsor was Frontier Airlines who do a massive air support contribution.
I want stress the fact that dog mushing was and is a big part of our cultural heritage. Races of this nature would have never evolved without our people’s major role in the evolution of the sport. Before the snow machine all that was used was the dogteam. It was the means of survival. It meant the difference between living and starvation.
This particular document gives you a brief summary of what’s involved in the race itself, location and villages involved and the funding it takes to make it successful. My dream is to see that at some point in my lifetime we might have a $100,000.00 purse. Please help us achieve our goal. We, with all the financial avenues available we can make it happen! All responses and interests can go to or or call Marcia Fairbanks @ 907-442-3702. Thank you very much, Chuck Schaeffer President Kobuk 440 Racing Association

Kobuk 440 Needs:
Straw, about 45 bales plus freight
Easter Baskets, about 200 plus freight
Boxes of food for villages checkpoints (bread, mayonnaise, coffee, tea, creamer, cold cuts, bottled water, peanut butter, pilot bread crackers, cookies)
Artwork for prizes; first, second, third prizes and the humanitarian award
Money for the purse
Search and rescue donations, $750 per village (6 villages)
Snow machine rental, 3 snow machines at $125/day, $1875
Fuel and oil, about $1500
Heet about 5 cases
Veterinarian plane ticket, round trip from Anchorage to Kotzebue
Headlamps, 12
VOLUNTEERS! For the planning committee, the trail crew, trail breaker, banquet help, musher housing coordinator, radio support, PR person, etc!



Connie,Barry said...

This is an interesting post - thanks for sharing. WOW, there's
alot of planning that goes into this!

Arvay said...

Love the doggie photos!