In the Yukon and Alaska wilderness, an epic winter event takes place every February:
the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race. Covering 1,000 miles (1,600 km) between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska during the depths of winter, the Yukon Quest is known for excellence in canine care and fostering the traditions of northern travel by dog sled
The Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race gets its name from the "highway of the north," which is the Yukon River and the historical winter land routes travelled by prospectors, adventurers and mail and supply carriers traveling between the gold fields of the Klondike and those in the Alaska interior.
Origins of the Yukon Quest
As early as 1976, a Fairbanks to Whitehorse sled dog race had been talked of. But it wasn't until this conversation between Roger Williams, Leroy Shank, Ron Rosser and William "Willy" Lipps that the Yukon Quest became more than an idea. The mushers named the race the "Yukon Quest" to commemorate the Yukon River, which was the historical highway of the north. The trail would trace the routes 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 1900s.
The first Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race tested both race logistics and the talents of all involved. Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks in 1984. During the next 16 days, 20 teams arrived in Whitehorse. Six teams were forced to drop out along the way.
Sonny Lindner became the first Yukon Quest champion, completing the race in just over 12 days.
In 2005, Lance Mackey became the first Yukon Quest rookie to win the race.
The fastest run took place in 2010, when Hans Gatt finished after 9 days and 26 minutes.
The 2012 competition had the closest one-two finish, as Hugh Neff beat Allen Moore by twenty-six seconds.
10 facts (plus 1) you have to know about the Yukon Quest
- This incredible winter event takes place every February when weather conditions can be the coldest and most unpredictable.
- The Yukon Quest race starts on schedule regardless of weather and lasts from 10 to 16 days until the final dog team arrives at the finish line.
- The Yukon Quest has been run every year since 1984.
- The Yukon Quest Trail follows historical Gold Rush and mail delivery dog sled routes from the turn of the 20th Century.
- Up to 50 dog teams consisting of one human and 14 canine athletes tread across some of the last pristine wilderness remaining in North America.
- Mushers carry mandatory equipment, food and supplies at all times. Sleds cannot be replaced without penalty, and mushers are not permitted to accept any assistance, except at the half-way point in Dawson City.
- There are nine checkpoints; some separated by more than 200 miles.
- The Yukon Quest is a true test of the capacity of humans and canines, and a tribute to the strength of the ancient bond that unites them.
- Quest sled dogs are marathon athletes. Bred from stock that survived and thrived during the Klondike Gold Rush, no animal on earth can match them for endurance, dedication and ability to perform in the extreme conditions of the North.
- The Yukon Quest is dedicated to excellence in canine care.
- The Yukon Quest is the most amazing, coolest, authentic dog sledding event in the world!.