Warmer winter brings changes to this year’s Yukon Quest

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 4, 2014

36-year-old musher Cody Strathe from Ester leaves downtown Fairbanks to embark on the 1,000 miles to Whitehorse during this year's Yukon Quest. Strathe ran the race last year, where he places fifteenth. Feb. 1, 2014. Elika Roohi/Sun Star

36-year-old musher Cody Strathe from Ester leaves downtown Fairbanks to embark on the 1,000 miles to Whitehorse during this year’s Yukon Quest. Strathe ran the race last year, where he places fifteenth. Feb. 1, 2014. Elika Roohi/Sun Star

On Saturday morning, 18 mushers filled the streets of downtown Fairbanks with their teams of dogs ready to start this year’s Yukon Quest, often considered the most difficult sled dog race in the world.

Due to the unseasonably warm winter in the interior of Alaska and in Canada, both the start and finish of the race were moved. The Quest typically starts on the Chena River in Fairbanks, but after the recent warm weather, the ice was too weak to safely hold the weight of the mushers, their dogs and local fans out to see the start.

The course of the race was also altered by this season’s heat wave. For the second year in a row, mushers will skip climbing the 3,400-foot American Summit between Eagle and Dawson City due to hazardous conditions.

In order to make up the extra miles, the end of race was changed from Whitehorse, Canada to Takhini Hot Springs, about 18 miles north of Whitehorse. The course changes will likely make this the shortest Yukon Quest in history.

Last year, Alaskan musher Allen Moore finished the race with a record time of 8 days, 18 hours and 27 minutes. If conditions cooperate this year, mushers can hope for speedy times again.

 

 

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