Here they are – The 2011 Dalton Gang, ready to run the Quest…
Here they are, the 2011 Dalton Gang ready for their place in Yukon Quest History:
RACHAEL:8 years old,48 lbs.This will be Rachael’s fifth Quest. She was injured last year but has finished twice and a leader
Join us in downtown Whitehorse for the 28th running of the Yukon Quest international sled dog race!
Teams depart every 3 minutes starting at 11am.
Come see our mushers and their dogs get ready in the morning before the great start. 2011 Yukon Quest merchandise will be available for sale, and as well as coffee, tea and hot coco for the cold ones!
If you wanted to sample the enormous amount of preparation involved in the staging of a major event like the Yukon Quest, then last Saturday, Jan.22, at Summit Logistics in Fairbanks (and in Whitehorse at the White Pass & Yukon Route Depot) would have been the place to be. It was the Food Drop day, when Yukon Quest mushers bring their race supplies and necessary equipment – including all the dog food needed for the trail – to the two Food Drop locations. By providing this food distribution service to the mushers every year, race officials ensure a smooth race.
The rules state that all food and equipment shipped to checkpoints for the race must be in cloth burlap or woven poly-bags, permanently marked with the musher’s name and checkpoint to where it’s destined, with a gross weight of each bag not to exceed 40 pounds(18.1 kg.) There are several bags for each checkpoint and there are ten checkpoints in total. Mushers figure to have about a ton of food and supplies – around fifty bags – on the trail for their use.
From this point, a small army of volunteers under the supervision of the Race Manager takes over as the bags are sorted and put on pallets for shipping. The supplies from Alaska-based mushers destined for Yukon checkpoints will be shipped to Whitehorse, while all bags from Yukon-based mushers destined for Alaska checkpoints will be transported to Fairbanks. Bags are then distributed to the ten checkpoints, themselves, before the first dog team takes off on Saturday, February 5th. Once the race starts, no food or equipment can be delivered, with the exception of Dawson City. Mushers are not allowed any additional items, unless they secure them from a generally available source, like a store. The philosophy behind this rule is that mushers should be independently able to care for their dogs, themselves and also have the ability to offer emergency assistance to another musher in need.
By now, the mushers have invested many long and trying hours planning and preparing for this race. Veterans racers, like Dave, have a good idea of what to expect logistically, while rookies breath a little easier knowing another deadline has been met and food, at least, will not be a worry. By way of celebration, after the hard work was done, Yukon Quest International held a Purse Party at the Musher’s Hall. Hobo Jim sang songs long into the night and a grand time was had by all, but the scent of anticipation was in the air. Mushers know the real celebrating won’t start until after the race has been run.
See you at the starting line and thanks to all the Food Drop Volunteers for their help this past weekend!!
The snow has fallen, temperatures have dropped, and one of the World’s greatest adventures is at hand. On Saturday, February 5, 2011, Dave and 14 of his closet friends will once again challenge the elements, and themselves, in the 27th Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Looking to improve on last year’s finish time of 10 days, 23 hours, 37minutes, Dave’s #1 goal will be “To finish with a happy and healthy team.”
The 1,000 mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks has been called the “Toughest sled dog race in the World” and for good reason. Its length is equivalent to the distance between England and Africa, and the distance between some checkpoints is the breadth of Ireland.* Over four mountain ranges, frozen rivers, forests and tundra, battling dangerous sub-zero temperatures and lack of sleep, over thirty mushers will give it their all. Unique challenges include long periods of loneliness, the possibility of losing your dog-team, and the occasional ill-tempered moose.** In any given year, 30-35% of the mushers fail to reach the finish line for whatever reason. This year, over thirty dog-drivers have registered. The math isn’t hard to do.
Following the ghosts of the great Gold Rush of 1898-1903, the Quest competitors fully understand that this race is all about teamwork. The dogs depend on you as you must depend on them to survive. A past winner of the Veterinarian’s Choice Award, Dave has earned the reputation of one who “takes good care of his dogs” – the highest compliments a musher can receive. No one convicted of animal abuse or neglect may enter the Yukon Quest and (with the exception of Dawson City) mushers are not allowed any help from non-racers.
Though training and working with the dogs is a year-around endeavor, this time of year sees a more serious schedule. Two weeks before the start of the Quest, mushers bring food and needed supplies to the Food Drop, which are then distributed to race checkpoints, for mushers to retrieve during the race. The weekend before the race, all sled dogs entered in the race undergo a complete physical examination.
While help cannot be accepted during the race, prior to it any help in the form of sponsorships is not only welcomed, but necessary. Please take the opportunity to join the Dalton Gang and follow Dave and his dogs as they tear across the Alaskan wilderness. Become part of this year’s Quest and be sure to visit this website for regular updates before, during and after the race.
The Dalton Gang
*Firth, John. Yukon Quest: The 1,000-Mile Dog Sled Race Through the Yukon and Alaska. Whitehorse, Yukon: Lost Moose Publishing, 1998. ISBN 978-1-896758-03-9.
** One year, when a moose attacked his dog team, a musher was forced to kill it with an axe (Canadian law prohibits handguns), then butcher it according to Quest rules.