Nature January 10, 2018
This Sled Dog Race Between Alaska And Canada Is A Wild Ride You Have To See
The Yukon Quest is a 1000-mile sled dog race that runs from the interior town of Fairbanks across the arctic into Canada. The race began in 1984 and traces the historic “highway of the north,” the mighty Yukon River. The Quest is a major event in the communities along the route, and something Alaskans look forward to each winter.
The brave mushers face the vicious northern winters to ride to glory across the finish line. The spectators largely follow along through media coverage these days, which has only increased the popularity. Fans welcome the teams with open arms as they stop through Alaskan and Canadian communities. The Yukon Quest is a uniquely Alaskan event, and has long been a favorite of Alaskan kids.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
The Yukon Quest is a thrilling feat of strength and bravery as mushers travel through the arctic in the frigid winter. Alaskan Huskies are high level endurance athlete animals that train all year for their big run at the Quest and there are 14 on each team.
The race starts on alternating years in Fairbanks in interior Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in Canada. This year, the kick off will be on February 3, 2018 in downtown Fairbanks at 11 AM on the Chena River behind the YQ office.
The Yukon Quest race starts on schedule regardless of weather and usually lasts from 10 to 16 days. It's not over until the last dog team arrives at the finish line, rescued if necessary.
Coordinators manage a vast network of volunteers and sponsors that make the race fun for everyone. Check points are well-oiled refueling and rest stations where mushers do their best to shave off time while maintaining themselves and their team.
Mushers pack everything they will need for the entire race and then it is checked to make sure the strict rules are followed. The packages of dog food and supplies are dropped off at check points along the route.
The dogs are checked by vets at least 6 times before, during, and after the race to make sure they are ready to race. The Quest organization does all it can for sled dogs to ensure their health and safety.
Attending the start of the race is a fascinating experience. Many locals gather to send the teams off with lots of cheers and support. The boisterous dog teams, the flash of cameras, and crowd all charge the air with excitement.
The trail crosses frozen rivers and four mountain summits and mushers face temps of -40, 100 mph winds, open water and thin ice. There are nine checkpoints, some more than 200 miles apart. The Quest is truly an amazing journey through the wilds of the arctic.
The trail begins on the frozen Chena River that cuts through downtown Fairbanks. Large crowds of fans gather to cheer for their favorite musher, despite the frozen temperatures.
The trail runs through pristine arctic wilderness and the mushers see the gorgeous scenes, alone with their dog teams. The quiet swish of the sled through the snow is an experience like no other.
Educational programs for schools are offered to teach students about the history of the arctic, geography of the Yukon River and the trail, and all about dog mushing.
The finishers of the Yukon Quest cruise over a finish line with a huge crowd, cheering them on, whether in Whitehorse or Fairbanks.
The purse, or prize money, is shared between the first 10 finishing teams. The last person to come in gets the "Red Lantern" Award. The Awards Banquet will be Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the
Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse, 5 PM.
If you like mushing, take a tour on a dog sled in
Take This Dog Mushing Tour For A Winter Adventure In Alaska. Another popular dog mushing race in Alaska, the Iditarod, offers tours of it’s headquarters in The Quintessential Alaskan Attraction That Everyone Needs To Experience At Least Once.
Have you been to the start or the finish of the Yukon Quest? Tell us about it in the comments below.