Allen Moore rides along the Yukon River during the 2017 Yukon Quest. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

VIDEO: Mushers gear up for grueling Yukon Quest sled dog race

The international race kicks off Feb. 2, lasting several days as teams make their way to Fairbanks

Dozens of mushers from across North America will be setting out on a 1,000-mile trek with their four-legged teams as they strive to become the 2019 champion of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

The race kicks off Feb. 2 in Whitehorse, Yukon, featuring the iconic 1,000-mile race (1,600 kilometres) as well as the 300-mile (482 kilometres).

Thirty mushers, including reigning champion Allen Moore and past winners Matt Hall and Brent Sass, will be mushing alongside eight to 14 dogs as they compete for $21,500. Of the 30, 15 are veterans – mushers who have completed the race in past years – and seven are rookies.

A further 13 are set to compete in the 300-mile race.

Moore won the Yukon Quest on Feb. 13, 2018, crossing the finish line at Shipyards Park at 7:59 a.m. The competitors endured -40 C and heavy snowfall. Some racers took as long as two weeks to arrive at the finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Meanwhile, those in the 300-mile race will wrap up in Braeburn, Yukon.

The race, which began in April 1983, has been deemed one of the most difficult sled dog races in the world because of the harsh conditions, difficult route and minimal support allowed for competitors.

Here’s a look at the mushers representing the Yukon:

Hans Gatt

There are only two people on the planet who can say they’ve won the Yukon Quest 1,000-mile race four times.

One of them, Hans Gatt, is returning to the Quest this year after “semi-retirement.”

By his own admission, Gatt isn’t out to make a statement with his return.

“Obviously, I used to race to win for the last 30 years, but this is a little different,” said Gatt. “I mean, I haven’t raced it for like eight years and I don’t have that drive anymore. I don’t have to prove anything.”

This go around, he said he’s hoping to see what his team can accomplish. Read more >

Rob Cooke

For veteran musher Rob Cooke, this year’s Yukon Quest will be special.

“It’s a bittersweet race for me,” said Cooke during an interview at his Mount Lorne home.

“My five main dogs – Maddie, Skits, Loonie, Nutter and Psycho – they’ve been racing with me since 2011 and they’ve done pretty much every race with me since 2011. … This is going to be their final race.”

The only time Cooke didn’t have that core group of Siberian huskies was in 2016, when Maddie had a litter of puppies.

“That makes me really sad – that I’m never going to be racing with them again after this. But it is also really exciting that I’m going to have this one final race with them and share the Quest trail with them one final time. I’m really looking forward to that.” Read more >

Nathaniel Hamlyn

Nathaniel Hamlyn was one of six rookies to finish last year’s Quest.

He was the red lantern winner after finishing last in the race, 13th, in a year that half the field, another 13 mushers, didn’t make it to the end.

Hamlyn is up front about last year’s run. After being forced to drop four dogs from his team in the first 160 km, he ran most of the race with just eight on the line.

“My rookie year was basically, literally, survival,” said Hamlyn during an interview at his home and kennel near Mount Lorne. “I wasn’t really interested in racing, I was just wanting to finish.” Read more >

Michelle Phillips

Yukoner Michelle Phillips is putting the final touches on preparations for her seventh Yukon Quest – her first in nearly a decade.

That’s not to say she hasn’t been racing, just not in the Quest.

“I ran the Yukon Quest six times and then I started running the Iditarod,” said Phillips. “I decided that I wanted to revisit the Quest – do something different – and my partner, Ed (Hopkins) has been running the Yukon Quest. He is a rookie and he wanted to run the Iditarod, so we decided to switch it up.”

Together, Phillips and Hopkins run Tagish Lake Kennel, home to more than 60 dogs, and – among other things – tend to finish well in the Yukon Quest. Read more >

To see full coverage of the race as the teams make their way to Whitehorse, follow Black Press Media’s Yukon News.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP renew request for help finding missing Nakusp man

Christopher Sanford was reported missing Aug. 5

Updated: Early-morning fire near Trail destroys travel trailer and van

An arson-trained RCMP investigator will examine the scene

Anglican churches in Nelson, Balfour, Kaslo to marry same-gender couples

Rev. Jeff Donnelly says he’d love to host LGBTQ weddings

Update: Two women injured after motorcycle accident in Trail

The collision occurred Wednesday night just after 9 p.m.

Pregnant Kootenay teachers fight to change compensation rules

Risk to unborn babies not recognized by WorkSafeBC

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read