The Yukon Quest has been described as the hardest sled dog race in the world. Mushers and their teams of up to 14 canine athletes travel 1,000 miles of wild and difficult terrain between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon. And they do it in some of the coldest and most unpredictable weather conditions. Luckily the Yukon Quest organizers have created a series of events so the public can get involved with this iconic event without the risk of frostbite or sleep deprivation.
The public can enjoy dogsledding rides on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shipyards Park. Muktuk Adventures and Sky High Wilderness Ranch are offering free rides throughout the day. Quest Fest takes place at the Frank Slim Building at Shipyards Park from Monday, Feb. 10 to Friday, Feb. 14. A full slate of events will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday).
“Fans of the race can come by and enjoy everything from free dogsledding rides, kids’ arts and crafts, and films, to presentations from Yukon Quest veterans and more,” said Shayna Hammer, executive director of the Yukon Quest. “These events are all free and great for all ages.”
Quest Fest is followed by the Meet the Mushers event on Feb. 14 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Mount McIntyre.
“All ages are welcome to come and meet the 2020 mushers,” said Hammer. “They can purchase a 2020 poster and get it signed by their favourite musher, or all of the ones in attendance. Enjoy the camaraderie that mushers bring to this post-race soiree. Yukon Quest merchandise will be available for sale and there will be a cash bar with light refreshments available.”
For those who want to see some of the race action, the finish line is located in Shipyards Park.
“Based on previous stats, we expect the first team to arrive in Whitehorse on Monday, Feb. 10 in the afternoon,” said Hammer. “The best way to keep updated on when teams are expected in is to keep an eye on the tracker on our website (YukonQuest.com), or to follow along on Facebook or Twitter as we post live updates. We will capture each team’s finish through Facebook Live and photos as well.”
The 2020 Yukon Quest wraps up at the Finish and Awards Banquet. This ticketed event takes place at the Yukon Convention Centre on Feb. 15 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. There, mushers take the stage in the order they crossed the finish line and share stories about the race experience. Some mushers receive awards based on their performance. These include the Veterinarians’ Choice Award, Dawson Award, Rookie of the Year Award, Challenge of the North Award, Sportsmanship Award, Red Lantern Award, Golden Harness Award and the award for the Champion.
Tickets are $90. They are available through the Yukon office in the White Pass building, by phone at (867) 668-4711, or by email at [email protected]