The Yukon Quest is an important race for SP Kennel, both currently and historically. Aliy and her team won this race back in 2000 and we have Pedro's Golden Harness hanging on a rack as the first thing you see as you walk in the house.
Aliy and Pedro in 2000
Allen and the Black Team won in 2013 and 2014 and Quito's golden harnesses hang alongside Pedro's. We love this race and it's history.
Allen and Quito at the finish line in 2014
I asked Aliy about why she loves the Quest: "The Yukon Quest... the word "intimate" comes to mind. You are intimately connected with your dog team in a way that other races, training and the "real world" don't allow. The reason behind this is because for long periods of the race you see no-one. You don't see the thousands of people standing cheering you on; you don't see the hoards of volunteers at multiple checkpoints; you'll be lucky if you can stumble across a cabin that you can find and the bears haven't ravaged it the summer before. So the Yukon Quest route is definitely travelling back in time and not forward. It's rare that you can do that these days.
It's really cool that a person can experience that as a dog musher but at the same time be able to carry a tracker and therefore be able to carry thousands of fans down the trail with them, even when the mushers don't know who every one of them are."
Allen says he also enjoys the "going back in time" aspect of the race. "Every time we run the Quest we go back in time to see what it was like when our great-grandfathers were alive. We like challenges and there are always challenges on the Yukon Quest. It reminds us of what our forefathers went through."
The Yukon Quest website is a great source of interesting information about the history of the race so check it out!
"At the top of the world in the Yukon and Alaska wilderness of northwestern North America, an epic winter sports event takes place every February: the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race. Covering 1,000 miles (1,600 km) between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska during the depths of winter, the Yukon Quest is known for excellence in canine care and fostering the traditions of northern travel by dog sled."
In less than a week, 23 mushers will leave the starting chute in Fairbanks and head 1000 miles up mountains, over rivers and down the trail towards Whitehorse. A few hours later another 24 mushers leave for the 300 mile event, finishing this year in Circle City.
The route for the 1000 milers has been changed slightly this year from Eagle to Dawson City. You can read in the updated trail report that "Mushers will be re-routed up the Clinton Creek secondary road to the highway and follow that into Dawson. This results in a 2,500-foot climb over the course of about 20 miles up out the Forty Mile River valley to the highway and another 30 miles in high country into Dawson." When Allen read of the change in route he immediately looked up the history of the area and said he was looking forward to seeing a new part of the country.
We're excited to get this race underway! There are a few events happening this week leading up to the race start and we'll let you know about them soon, along with a coverage guide of where you can get the best information (hint: right here)!