Last night, amidst all the whoopin’ and hollerin’, the Dalton Gang rode into town for the annual Start and Draw Banquet. One of the most beloved Quest events, the banquet, held at the Yukon Convention Center, provides all those involved with the race one last opportunity to relax and socialize before the serious stuff begins.
Tables overflowed with meats, cheeses, salads, and cakes giving the mushers and their handlers one last taste of plenty before two weeks of deprivation and self-sacrifice. California wines and beers from local breweries were also available for those with a taste for adult beverages.
After dinner, before the all important drawing for race positions, came a Raffle giveaway of a Yamaha Nytro Snowmachine (snowmobile, to those in the lower 48,) air travel tickets,and a pair of Canada Goose Parkas. Sadly, not one of the Dalton Gang won anything, but we still have hopes of winning a much bigger prize. Then, the big moment arrived. One by one, the mushers drew lots to see when they would begin their quest. Dave drew bib #23, third to last. We were hoping for a lower draw, but you work with what you’ve got.
Today is a free day for the mushers, meaning there are no more meetings. Still there are preparations to be made and training to be done. Dave and the other mushers now put on their race face and focus is intensified. Snow, and excitement, is in the air. Everything is in place for “The Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World.”