Winners Never Rest

The 2011 Yukon Quest has barely ended and already Dave has his eyes set for next year. The training schedule never really stops though there are changes. Soon it will be time for weight training, then water training in summer. The serious work begins in October when the snow flies and possible fundraisers loom at Ivory Jacks.

Fans of the Dalton Gang can get involved and support them by purchasing t-shirts, hats, and hoodies through this very website. In August, sign-up for the 2012 Quest also signals the beginning of the Starter Program Online Auction. This is a program that has enjoyed great success in it’s inaugural year and Quest officials, and mushers, have high hopes for next year. It’s something to keep in mind. Here’s what last year’s winners received:

1. One ticket to the Start Banquet to join your musher’s table.
2. A Special-Access Pass to the pre-race staging area to watch (or help) your musher prepare.
3. Ride to the start line with your musher (Either on the runners or a volunteer snowmachine.)
4. An autographed poster signed by your musher.
5. A picture of you and your musher holding the sled at the Start Line.
6. Your name read by the announcer at the Official Race Start.

Our thanks go out to Marcia, the winning bidder for Dave this year and the winning fan in our hearts!!!

The Finish Line And After

Finishing in Fairbanks

The Dalton Gang made their entrance into Fairbanks on Thursday, 2/17, with a certified time of 12d 10h 7m. It came not a moment too soon. For over the last 100 miles, Dave was not just battling Mike Ellis for positioning, but a nasty virus as well.

“It’s a good thing I caught it at the end of the race or I wouldn’t have survived this race,” croaked a feverish Dalton. Calling it one of the toughest races he ever experienced, Dave later recounted before an enthralled crowd at the Finish Banquet just how dangerous the race had become once the mushers left Dawson, “I’m going ‘geez, how are we going to get out there to forty-mile.” But make it out there he did, along with Jodi Bailey and Mike Ellis. The story of their cooperation is one that’s retold in almost all the stories of the mushers. It’s what makes this race unique.

Below is an audio file of the Finish Banquet held Friday night Feb. 18, at the Westmark Hotel. Dave is introduced at 30:26. Enjoy…

The final 2011 Race Results

Position/ Musher/ Total Elapsed Time
1 Dallas Seavey 10d 11h 53m
2 Sebastian Schnuelle 10d 12h 26m
3 Ken Anderson 10d 14h 24m
4 Brent Sass 10d 19h 2m
5 Kelley Griffin 11d 3h 2m
6 Allen Moore 11d 7h 32m
7 Jodi Bailey 12d 6h 51m
8 Mike Ellis 12d 9h 59m
9 David Dalton 12d 10h 7m
10 Tamara Rose 13d 0h 58m
11 Kyla Durham 13d 1h 53m
12 Jerry Joinson 13d 3h 22m
13 Hank DeBruin 13d 10h 54m

Headed Home – 2/17

They're on their way...

It’s now the last leg of the journey. The Dalton Gang left right on schedule and are headed home at a good pace. They should hit the finish line anytime after 9:00pm.

Out of the Two River’s Checkpoint, Dave was the only musher to still have twelve dogs (Jodi Bailey had to drop one.) It looks like Dave and Mike Ellis are battling it out for eighth place, but all three are champions. Indeed, to endure this test of will power and determination takes great intestinal fortitude – guts – and all of the finishers have it in spades. Hail the returning heroes!

Mushing Through The Night

Night Rider

The Dalton Gang is moving into the final stretch. At a brisk 11 mph, they cruised from Checkpoint 101 to Two Rivers. Now, they stand at the edge of a top ten finish. Now, they run to their goal, the end of the Quest. Running through the night, they checked in at 3:25am with an impressive run time of just over 7 hours. These fantastic athletes these fourteen, now twelve…Nicole – the leader,Zeke, Healy and Denali, Sleepy and Doc, Al, Sam, Tom and Sheldon, Sandy and Panda, deserve our applause for the grit, determination and the muscle they demonstrated. Dave was along for the ride.

Headed for home.

With each mile that passes, Dave gets that much closer to Frank Turner’s record of 25 Quest runs. He has made his passion his lifestyle and defines what mushing is all about. Dave, along with Jodi Bailey, are the only mushers left with twelve dogs. They take care of their animals.

At 11:25am, They begin the final assault after the mandatory 8 hour layover. And then, even the dogs can sense it…

Central – 2/15

Congratulations to Dallas Seavey, 2011 Yukon Quest Champione and Rookie of the Year!

Leaving Circle at -40°F

Dave is currently resting in Central after arriving last night at 11pm. He came in slightly behind Jodi Bailey and slightly ahead of Mike Ellis. Again, Dave is in fine spirits and claimed to have no trouble with the overflow that has played havoc with other mushers from the previous day. Estimated time of departure is 6am. Getting closer to the end.

Food Drop – YQ 2011

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.

Dave at the Food Drop

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.

Dave and Hobo Jim

See you at the starting line and thanks to all the Food Drop Volunteers for their help this past weekend!!

The Dalton Gang Rides Again!

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.

Until then…

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.