The 32nd Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race begins February 7, 2015 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada and finishes on the frozen Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. Dog mushing is The Official Alaska State Sport, with The Yukon Quest and The Iditarod being Alaska’s premiere mushing events. The Yukon Quest Trail follows historical gold rush and mail delivery dog sledroutes. Once the transportation “highways” of the northern frontier, the Yukon Quest Trail now comes alive each February with the frosty breath and haunting howls of dog teams consisting of one human musher and 14 canine athletes. Race participants follow a 1,000-mile trail that traverses some of the most sparsely populated and most remote and pristine country on the North American continent. Temperatures can vary dramatically from –80F to 30F. High winds and whiteout conditions, rough gravel, hard packed snow, frigid open water, mountainous terrain and river flats can speed up the race or slow it to a crawl. Mushers driving sleds loaded with 250-300 pounds of gear are challenged by changes in elevations as they climb windy and drifted mountain summits, and the sheer distances between checkpoints, some over 100 miles.
Twenty-six mushers will take off from the start line in Whitehorse, which is a large increase from the 2014 Yukon Quest, when eighteen mushers started the journey. This year’s participants include four past champions, all Alaskan residents. Allen Moore won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014; Hugh Neff took the crown in 2012; Lance Mackey, who’s the only four-time champion of the Yukon Quest, finished first from 2005 to 2008, and Jeff King; who won it all in 1989, returns to the race for the first time since 1990. The 2015 Yukon Quest should take 10 to 14 days to run 1,000 miles through nine communities en route to
Fairbanks. For the latest news and information, visit www.yukonquest.com.