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History[ edit ] The idea for the Yukon Quest originated in April during a bar-room discussion among four Alaskans: The leading mushers had to break trail because the snowmobile intended for the task broke down. Trail markers often were absent or misplaced, and no preparations had been made for racers in Dawson City until organizer Roger Williams flew there shortly after the race began.
Musher Bill Cotter said, "The trail was so nice that it was difficult to keep from going too fast.
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In and again in , 47 mushers entered. In , 31 completed the race—the most that have ever finished it. Thirty-five more dogs were sickened before the spread of the virus was halted by colder weather halfway through the race. Though not then forbidden by any rule, this violated equal-treatment guidelines because she did not offer the treatment to every musher. Because he did not quit, race officials gave him the Red Lantern Award.
Alaska officials also believed it would be easier to manage an Alaska-only race. When a moose attacked his dog team, he was forced to kill it with an axe, then butcher it according to Quest rules.
Finally, after the conclusion of the race, he was fined half his winnings when his dogs tested positive for ibuprofen. Cosgrove started the race, but quit before the border. Members of the Yukon Quest organization revolted against this and voted to evict the board members who had proposed it. Canadian organizers secured international sponsorship for the race, and when they refused to let this sponsorship money be used to pay debts accumulated in Alaska, members of the Alaska board threatened to host a separate competition.
In the end, the Alaska board members were forced to resign, and a deal was worked out between the two sides. The race was run on schedule and had 38 entrants.
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Competitors in each have gone on to participate in the Yukon Quest. The first of these graduated mushers competed in the race, won by Tim Osmar. This was the first of three consecutive wins, making him the first three-time winner. Partly because of the storm, only 11 finished the race—the fewest ever.
One month later, Mackey became the first person to win both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year. He was just four minutes ahead of Hugh Neff. The race started in Fairbanks on February 6, ,  and the early start date was kept for the competition.
Hans Gatt won the race with the fastest finish in Yukon Quest history: In , conditions returned to normal, as violent storms blasted the trail and mushers during the second half of the race. Only 13 of the 25 competitors completed the race, tying the record for fewest finishers. In odd-numbered years, the start and finish lines switch. Wildlife is common on the trail, and participants sometimes face challenges from moose and wolves. Iditarod only has about a hundred and thirty miles on the Yukon, the Quest stays on the river closer to four hundred miles.
Because of the extreme difficulty of the competition, several stages of preparation are needed. The first is the food drop, when mushers and race officials position caches of food and supplies at race checkpoints.
Racers take the trail to Braeburn Lodge , the first checkpoint. In odd years, mushers must take a four-hour rest here or at Carmacks. The three minute start time difference is adjusted here. In odd years, mushers have the option of taking their four-hour rest here or at Bareburn.
The three minute difference start time is also adjusted if the musher chooses to take their four-hour rest here. Trees are so scarred from repeated sled impacts that they have lost their bark on one side. After departing the trail, they travel alongside and across the Yukon River to McCabe Creek, the first dog drop on the Whitehorse—Fairbanks route. The stretch between Pelly Crossing and Dawson City is the greatest distance between checkpoints of any sled dog competition in the world.
At Stepping Stone , shortly before the Pelly and Yukon rivers meet, they can rest at a hospitality stop before turning north. Before organizers coordinated schedules with the mining equipment operators, racers often had to contend with heavy machinery blocking the trail or turning it into a muddy path. At this point, mushers enter the gold-mining district surrounding Dawson City. If they choose to, the three minute start difference will be subtracted from their rest time.
Eagle Summit and Rosebud Summit. Mushers then encounter the Steese Highway for a second time before crossing several creeks to begin the ascent of Eagle Summit. The weather atop Eagle Summit is harsh as this is a convergence zone between the Yukon Flats to the north and the low ground of the Tanana Valley to the south.
A differential in the weather within the two valleys causes high winds and precipitation when there is moisture in the atmosphere. At Mile , mushers have the option of taking their four-hour rest during even years. They can also take the rest at Central during even years.
Again, the three minute start difference will be subtracted from the race if the musher desires to take their rest here. The cabin gives mushers the opportunity for a short rest between Eagle Summit and Rosebud Summit. It consists of a gradual climb of 5 miles 8. The descent also brings mushers back into forested terrain.
Two Rivers is the final checkpoint in the Whitehorse—Fairbanks route. Mushers are required to rest at least eight hours in Two Rivers in odd years to ensure the health of their dogs during the final leg of the race. The terrain in this stretch is among the easiest on the trail, with gently rolling hills and forest which gradually change into an urban landscape as racers approach Fairbanks. This is the final stretch, and mushers use the river to enter Fairbanks and reach the finish line,  which is on the river itself in the middle of downtown Fairbanks.
Regardless of the timing of the finish, several thousand spectators typically gather to watch the first musher cross the finish line. It had just one non-checkpoint dog drop, at the Mile location,  and bypassed American Summit, Pelly Junction, and Braeburn. This site was moved to nearby Angel Creek after mushers complained that the hot springs melted nearby snow, causing their dogs to become wet—an extreme hazard in sub-freezing temperatures.
In the past several races, the Two Rivers checkpoint has changed locations annually: Weather[ edit ] The Yukon Quest trail is in the subarctic climate range. In the race, 12 teams were struck by a massive storm that eventually caused the evacuation of seven teams by helicopter.
Frostbite is common, as is hypothermia. In the Yukon Quest, Jeff King suffered an entirely frozen hand because of nerve damage from an earlier injury which left him unable to feel the cold. King said his hand became "like something from a frozen corpse".
Frozen by the extreme cold, King managed to reach a cabin and thaw out. Lance Mackey suffered frostbitten feet during the Yukon Quest,  and Hugh Neff lost the tips of several toes in the race. The race attracts from 21 in  to 47 in and  mushers each year. The foremost is the championship award, given to the winner.
The Dawson Award, consisting of four ounces of gold, is given to the first musher to reach Dawson City the midpoint who also finishes the competition. Seavey, who has run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race several times, won the Yukon Quest in his rookie year and therefore also was named rookie of the year. Ken Anderson, who reached Dawson City third, was the only one of the top three at that point to finish, and thus received the Dawson Award.