The 25th annual Trek Over the Top snowmobile race will arrive in Dawson City on March 8 and return to its starting point in Tok, Alaska, on March 11. The event has been organized on the Dawson end by the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) for the last seven years, and this is the second year that the Alaska side has been controlled by the Tok Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Robitaille, marketing manager for the KVA, credits the new Tok organizers, who took over in Alaska from the Alaska Trail Blazers, for being much more aggressive in their promotion of this event. By the end of January there were already 200 riders registered.

He also notes that the new promoters have attracted a new generation of riders to an event that used to be made up of people who had been running the route for 15 to 20 years.

It’s still a far cry from the event’s heyday, prior to the 9-11 terrorists’ attacks, when there were three 200-rider weekends between mid-February and mid-March. Numbers are on the increase, but there still aren’t enough people registered to cause the organizers to move to a second week of Trek.

This was a possibility that was discussed after last year’s event. Still, it’s a very healthy number of visitors for Dawson to see in the middle of the winter, coming very nicely after the Yukon Quest busyness and before the Klondike’s Thaw De Gras carnival and the Percy DeWolfe Mail Run to Eagle and back.

Robitaille says one of the reasons for not moving to two weeks this year was that the KVA is leery of volunteer burn-out. It takes a lot of volunteer time to make these events work, and one of the lead groups locally is the Dawson Sled Dawgs. They are planning for the popular Sled Drop – from a helicopter – and organize the Poker Run through the gold fields.

Registration for the Trek Over the Top is through the Tok Chamber website, which advertises the USD$599/person weekend as including:

  • 6 meals: Breakfast in Tok before departure, two luncheons in Dawson City, two banquet dinners at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s in Dawson City, and dinner in Tok upon return.
  • Three Nights lodging in Dawson
  • Gasoline fill-up 75 miles from Tok in Chicken, each way
  • Nightly can-can and gambling at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s
  • Chance to win door prizes
  • Entry into the Poker Run and chances to win cash and prizes
  • Burlesque shows and the Snowshoe Shufflers

There is an issue with the dinners at Gertie’s, which can serve a maximum of 160 people. Robitaille says that some people normally do choose to eat elsewhere at least once, so the package provides restaurant vouchers for those who want to do that.

The trip is a 200 mile (322 km) ride on a groomed trail from Tok to Dawson and back, over the Taylor/Top of the World Highway, and across the Yukon and Klondike rivers via the unofficial ice bridge that locals here have fashioned to make up for the lack of an officially sanctioned crossing. Visitors are used to this from last year.

Second Avenue is generally lined with snow machines during the Trek Over the Top weekend