Born out of some barroom banter in the summer of 1983, the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race has become known as “The Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World”.
One night in the summer of 1983, two pressmen from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Iditarod veteran LeRoy Shank and Roger Williams – and a few others met up at a Fairbanks watering hole and began to discuss starting a new local 100-mile race. Before the night was done, the event had stretched into a 1,000-mile epic journey between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon.
Shank and Williams ran with the idea. Momentum began to build, sponsors and mushers enthusiastically jumped on board and six months later, the first Yukon Quest hit the trail.
Spanning 1,000 miles between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon, the Quest commemorates the turn-of-the-century gold rush and mail carriers who used dog teams to carry mail and supplies along hte Yukon River between Dawson City, Yukon and Circle, Alaska.
The Quest trail goes through some of the most rugged and beautiful country Alaska and the Yukon have to offer.
Mushers climb three distinct mountain tops during their journey and follow the mighty Yukon River for good part of the race.
Temperatures can dip to 40 or 50 degrees below zero along some parts of the route. American and Eagle summits are notrious for their howling winds that seem to be coming from all directions, all the time.
One of the things making the Yukon Quest unique is the start alternates between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, giving spectators the opportunity to witness both the beginning and end of this epic journey every year.
– Bob Eley