Kuskokwim 300 changes rules to lower dog starting limit from 14 to 12

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BETHEL, Alaska — Organizers of the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race have changed the rules to reduce the number of starting dogs from 14 to 12.

The reduction stemmed from a desire by the race committee to encourage more local teams to run the full race, KYUK (http://is.gd/McqVqg) reported Tuesday.

Some teams with midsize kennels don't always have 14 dogs ready to go, race manager Zach Fansler said.

Many large teams, however, use the race as a testing ground for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

"It does kind of give them two less dogs to look at, and that was something I think weighed very heavily on the minds of the board as they were making that decision," Fansler said.

The race is scheduled to begin Jan. 16. The total purse for the 2015 event is $120,000 — a $10,000 increase.

Fansler said mushers expressing interest in running include four-time Iditarod winners Lance Mackey and Martin Buser, and Martin's son Rohn Buser, who won last year's Kuskokwim 300.

Fansler said he didn't have official word yet if nine-time Kuskokwim 300 winner Jeff King would participate. King is a four-time Iditarod champion.

Other rules in the race remained unchanged.

Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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