As a postscript to yesterday’s post – I feel the Yukon Quest deserves a mention as it is a very similar challenge to the better known Iditarod. The Iditarod is known as “the Last Great Race in the World”, the Yukon Dog Sled race is known as ‘The Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World’ because it takes one of the longest, most isolated, rugged routes on the continent.
The Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada’s three federal territories and was named after the Yukon River. It borders Alaska to the north-west. This epic winter sports event occurs every February at the top of the world.
The international event attracts about 30 dog teams from around the world, competing for about $125,000 U.S. in prize money. It follows a 1,000-mile (1600 km) route through the vast Arctic winter wilderness between Whitehorse, Yukon, and Fairbanks, Alaska. Front runners complete the rigorous journey in 12 days.
As early as 1976 this race was dreamt about, but it was only in 1983 that 4 men, all mushers, sat down at a table at the Bull’s Eye Saloon in Fairbanks and made the dream a reality, and so the Yukon Quest was born and the trail decided upon – to follow the route that the prospectors followed to reach the Klondike during the 1898 Gold Rush and from there to the Alaskan interior for subsequent gold rushes in the early years of the 1900’s with a mandatory layover at the halfway point of Dawson City.
The first race was run in 1984 with 26 teams at the start line. Over the next 16 days, 20 teams made it to Whitehorse, with six teams forced to drop out along the way. Sonny Lindner became the first Yukon Quest champion, completing the race in just over 12 days.
Dallas Seavey is this year’s champion. The race began on 5th February with 26 teams – 13 completed this extemely tough challenge.