YQ: Bib Draw and Start Banquet

Allen and the Black Team will wear bib #4 down the trail during the Yukon Quest and will leave the starting chute at 11.06am on Saturday morning.

Last night was the Starting Banquet and Bib Draw at the Westmark Hotel in downtown Fairbanks and it was a sell out! It's so exciting to see so many people supporting the race!

The program included fabulous music by Ukulele Russ before the Alaska Native Veterans Association presented the Colors. Dave Wilcoxson sang powerful Canadian and US anthems followed by the Chaplain of the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Steve Reed, who gave the invocation. Both mayors of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and City of Fairbanks officially welcomed everyone then we had dinner. You might wonder how with such a big crowd gets in line for a buffet dinner? The organisers had split the tables into Yukon Quest checkpoints and let us all go in 10 minute intervals so it was well organised.

Marty Steury, the Executive Director for the "Alaska side", told us that last year's final leg battle between Allen and Brent crashed the Trackleaders (spot trackers) website and we were the first sporting event to do so. Track leaders covers events all around the world and that battle created hundred of thousands of hits during the day. Marty also thanked the very many sponsors of the race (below).

After dinner we were introduced to all the Veterinarians and Vet Techs from USA, Canada, Spain and Australia and race officials for the YQ300 and 1000 mile races.

Head Veterinarian Dr Cristine "Nina" Hansen introduces her vet team; Doug Grilliot, Race Marshall, introduces his team of officials

Each musher then came up, in order of sign-up, to draw their bib number out of a "bunny boot" and say their thank yous.

Allen was very happy to draw bib #4 and he spoke about how this year will be a little different in that it is a rebuilding period for us. Nearly half his team will be Yukon Quest 1000 rookies (as well as half his handler team!) This will be Allen's sixth Yukon Quest and there is one dog that will have been on all six with him - Scout! He's excited to see what this year will bring.

He also told a story from last night's "Meet the Mushers" how he had Yuka Honda on one side of him and Tore Albrigtsen from Norway on the other and he, with his southern accent, trying to speak to them both in English. He said much fun was had by all!

Allen thanked the crew at the kennel: Chris, Mark, Wes, Wendy and Moira and all the other people who make it possible to run the race. He thanked his family especially his Mom who came up from Arkansas this week to see him. Also our major corporate sponsors... and his beautiful wife.

Dog tags the Black Team will wear as identification; Bib Draw #4!

Also also thanked all the dog sponsors and every one of you - our internet followers and supporters. Thank You!!