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Saturday, February 9, 2008

YQ 300 Update, 02-09-08 1:00 PM AST


The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race began this morning, leaving Fairbanks at a pleasant -25 degrees below zero, on a 1000 mile trek through the mail trails of Gold Rush Alaska and Yukon Territory to finish in Whitehorse, Canada. Twenty four teams will be competing in this 25th anniversary running of the race. Top contenders are 3 time champion Lance Mackey and Iditarod musher Ken Anderson.

Tonight at 5pm the Yukon Quest 300 heads off on the same trail. Both Aliy and Allen will be running teams. Randy Chappel was originally slated to run a team, but he had to pull out yesterday due to sickness. Luckily, Allen was able to step in as the driver of Randy’s team.
The Yukon Quest 300 is a race in fluid motion right now. Temperatures in the area have been reaching as cold as -65 below zero. Although it has warmed up today, cold weather is still in the forecast. Due to the extreme cold, several mushers have withdrawn from the race. As of last night, 9 mushers will be competing in the YQ300, but others were contemplating not running.

Along with the cold temperatures, the Quest is dealing with other hazardous trail conditions. The section run between Chena Hot Springs and Mile 101 lacked snow cover. Rosebud Mountain, difficult even under good conditions, has large sections with no snow and exposed rocks. It was decided that the trail was too dangerous to use. The races, the 1000 and 300 milers, will run from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs where they will have a mandatory stop - 6 hours Aliy and Allen. After the stop, the mushers will load their teams into their dog trucks and drive 4 hours around to the Mile 101 Dog Drop. The race will begin again there, five hours after the end of each musher’s mandatory rest.

The finish of the Quest 300 is normally in the village of Circle, but because of the trail change, it is not clear exactly where the race will be finishing this year. The plan right now is that the mushers will run from Mile 101 to Central (this section is over the infamous Eagle Summit) and then to Circle. From that point, the trail will head out and loop back around to Circle before returning for a finish at Central. If this is the final route, the 300 mile race will be 335 miles. If the finish is at Circle where it normally is, the 300 mile race will be 175 miles. We will let you know as we find out the final details.

Aliy will be leaving the start line at 5pm in the first position and Allen will be leaving 14 minutes later in the seventh slot.

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