This year's Yukon Quest looks to be a heated race

Wesley Schaefer/Sun Star Contributor
February 5, 2013

In 1983, Roger Williams and Leroy Shank came up with a crazy idea to run a race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. One year later, in 1984, Sonny Lindner finished first in the first Yukon Quest International Dog Sled Race. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that Yukon Quest and while it’s already started, there is lots to still enjoy.

This year, the race started in Whitehorse and will finish on the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks. The Yukon Quest media guide estimates the first finisher to come in around Feb. 12. One way fans keep up with the race is through a set of spot trackers the mushers all have on their sled. These trackers send a message every few minutes and translates into a dot on an electronic map that fans can follow.

This year’s race has 26 mushers who really run the gamut in nationalities from American, Canadian, British, Norwegian, Swiss and even Czech, giving the International part of the race real meaning.

Each musher started the Race Saturday Feb. 2 at three-minute intervals based on their start bib number, these times will be adjusted at one of 10 checkpoints later in the race. Each musher starts the race with no more than 14 dogs and must finish with no less than six. Mushers stop at the checkpoints and have the chance to drop dogs, these dropped dogs are given to the handlers that are following the mushers via the road system and are taken care of throughout the race.

This year has potential to be a very heated race, with 16 veterans, the runners have thousands of miles of experience. Last year’s winner, Hugh Neff has returned to defend his championship which he won with 26 seconds ahead of Allen Moore, who is also back this year. In addition, four-time champion Lance Mackey has also returned to try and beat Neff, and become the first musher to win 5 Yukon Quest Races.

The Fairbanks area has a good showing in this race with mushers, Ed Abrahamson, Ds an Kaduce, Lance Mackey, Allen Moore, Cody Strathe and Abbie West.  More information about the race can and the trackers be found on the Yukon Quest website.

Wesley Schaefer is covering the Yukon Quest, and posting updates on his blog Comeback Chronicles.

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