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What is the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race?
Although lesser known than the famous Iditarod, the Yukon Quest is generally acknowledged to be the world’s toughest sled dog race. Each February – the coldest and darkest time of the year - teams of one musher and 14 dogs set off on a 1,000-mile/1,600-kilometer journey through rough terrain and unforgiving icy wilderness. Temperatures of -20 to -60 Fahrenheit (-30 to -50 Celcius) are the norm. About 1/3rd of those who start will not complete the race.
The race is never delayed because of weather and usually takes between 9 and 14 days to complete. There are nine checkpoints along the way (the Iditarod has 23) to monitor the health of the dogs and for the mushers to rest.
Need to Know
If you’d like to join the festivities by sending the teams off at the start line – make sure to check the departure point – the race is run in reverse every other year – starting in Fairbanks, Alaska one year, then Whitehorse, Yukon Territory the next!
If you’d like to catch both ends of the action, you can always greet the teams at the finish line – as teams are GPS-tracked, officials usually have a very good idea of when to expect the teams.
Did You Know?
The Yukon Quest is the world’s only international sled dog race. In fact, mushers need to carry their passports and all the dogs need to have their proper health certificates for the customs checkpoint at the US and Canada border.
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