It might seem a bit strange for us to mention our community and the Yukon in the same breath. However, both Mark and Jeremy spent many years in Canada’s true north and if asked, they would still tell you this is where their heart is. The North is one of the most amazing areas of our country as well as the world. There are no borders and community is of the utmost importance, after all we depend on one another for survival.
While living there both Mark and Jeremy had a love of the Yukon Quest. Billed as the toughest sled dog race in the world and the only international sled dog race in the world, it has a loyal following that spans the globe. Yet very few Canadians have ever heard of the race.
February 2007 was our very first journey to the Yukon to share this amazing event with our guests. We do this journey every other year, as the start alternates between Whitehorse on odd years, and Fairbanks on even years. Every journey is always full as it is a very small crowd and when our guests return, they are all amazed at the wonders they have been a part of.
As with most great stories from the north, they all start at a bar….
Yukon Quest Race History
The Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race gets its name from the “highway of the north,” which is the Yukon River and the historical winter land routes travelled by prospectors, adventurers and mail & supply carriers traveling between the gold fields of the Klondike and those in the Alaska interior.
Origins of The Yukon Quest
In 1983, four mushers sat at a table in the Bull’s Eye Saloon in Fairbanks, Alaska. The conversation turned to a discussion about a new sled dog race and “what-ifs”.
- What if the race followed a historical trail?
- What if it were an international sled dog race?
- What if the race went a little longer?
- What if it even went up the Yukon River?
As early as 1976, a Fairbanks to Whitehorse sled dog race had been talked of. But it wasn’t until this conversation between Roger Williams, Leroy Shank, Ron Rosser and William “Willy” Lipps that the Yukon Quest became more than an idea. The mushers named the race the “Yukon Quest” to commemorate the Yukon River, which was the historical highway of the north. The trail would trace the routes that the prospectors followed to reach the Klondike during the 1898 Gold Rush and from there to the Alaskan interior for subsequent gold rushes in the early years of the 1900s.
The first Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race tested both race logistics and the talents of all involved. Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks in 1984. During the next 16 days, 20 teams arrived in Whitehorse. Six teams were forced to drop out along the way.
Sonny Lindner became the first Yukon Quest champion, completing the race in just over 12 days.
The mission of the Yukon Quest has always been the same,
To organize and promote a 1,000 mile international sled dog race for qualified long distance mushers; accomplished through a partnership between Yukon and Alaska with the help of volunteers, sponsors and fan support.
Join us in 2017 for the 33rd annual running of the Yukon Quest!