This photo is used under a Creative Commons license by jkbrooks85.
The Iditarod may be the most well-known sled dog race in Alaska, but the Yukon Quest is giving it a run for its money by being inducted into Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Each year the starting point alternates between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon, and the 31st Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race will begin in Fairbanks on Feb. 1.
This 1,000-mile race follows the Klondike Gold Rush trail that passes through the interior of Alaska. The treacherous trail and harsh weather tests not only the strength of each musher but the will and endurance of the extraordinary canine athletes. The Yukon Quest crosses over four mountain summits as well as frozen rivers and terrain, and some checkpoints can be as far as 200 miles apart.
The Yukon Quest began in 1984 with 26 teams in Fairbanks, Alaska. Now, up to 50 teams, comprised of one adult musher and as many as 14 dogs, may enter the race. To qualify, each musher must have completed a 200 and 300-mile race previous to the Yukon Quest.
With special events for the public going on throughout this amazing race, Westmark offers cozy winter accommodations at the start and the finish of the trail – Fairbanks and Whitehorse. On Jan. 29, the Yukon Quest presents a “Meet the Mushers” event in Fairbanks, Alaska, followed by the Feb. 1 race start at 11 a.m. However, some may argue that the end of the race is the best place to be. Whitehorse is also home to the finish line this year, and mushers are expected to complete the race within 10 – 16 days. While you’re waiting for the mushers to cross the finish line, head to QuestFest, a fun-filled, family-friendly event beginning Feb. 10 at Old Fire Hall, that features presentations, art and music about the Yukon Quest.