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
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 single musher and a team of 14
dogs race for about
two weeks, following historic
Klondike Gold Rush and
routes from the start of the
century. The mushers must pack their own equipment, are not permitted to
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
The race route runs on frozen
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
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
Bruce Lee a mere 5 minutes behind winner
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
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