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Yukon Quest

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The Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race, or just the Yukon Quest, also known as 'the toughest dog sled race in the world', is an international dog mushing race held every February. It runs from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska, U.S. on odd-numbered years, and from Fairbanks to Whitehouse on even years.

A team of sled dogs leave the Yukon Quest starting gate, Whitehorse, 2003. A team of sled dogs leave the Yukon Quest starting gate, Whitehorse, 2003.

A single musher and a team of 14 dogs race for about two weeks, following historic Klondike Gold Rush and mail delivery routes from the start of the 20th century. The mushers must pack their own equipment, are not permitted to replace their sled, and cannot accept any help except when they reach Dawson City, Yukon, the halfway mark of the race. Ten checkpoints lie along the trail, some more than 200 miles (300 km) apart.

The race route runs on frozen rivers, across open water and bad ice; over four mountain ranges, reaching an elevation of 3,800 feet (1,160 m); and though isolated, northern villages. Racers cover 1,000 miles (1,600 km), as temperatures hit −40 F (−40 C), and winds reach 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).

USD $125,000 is divided among the top 15 finishing teams and the winner takes home $30,000.

The first musher to win the Yukon Quest was Sonny Lindner in 1984. The shortest race was in 1995, with Frank Turner winning in 10 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes. The longest finishing time was in 1988 when it took Ty Halvorson 20 days, 9 hours and 16 minutes. The closest finish was in 1991 with Bruce Lee a mere 5 minutes behind winner Charlie Boulding. Aliy Zirkle became the first woman to win the race in 2000, in 10 days, 22 hours and 57 minutes. Lance Mackey won the 2005 race, and is competing in the Iditarod.

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