an amateur attempt at the blog phenomenon and a way to give people an idea of life in whitehorse, yukon, sarah and jole style...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

whitehorse top 10...number 9

today was the day that pretty much every citizen in whitehorse came out to view the start of the 22nd annual Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. 21 teams of 14 dogs each took off in 2 minute intervals to tackle a 1026 mile (1600 km) journey to Fairbanks, Alaska. the word epic doesn's even come close to describing this event.

the teams started in downtown whitehorse and the winner will cross the line in fairbanks in just over 10 days. Every year the race alternates from starting in whitehorse, to starting in fairbanks. next year it will start in fairbanks and finish in whitehorse. snow was trucked in and laid down on main street to make the first couple km of trail in downtown whitehorse.
the dogs and mushers will tackle three 3000 foot mountain summits, tempertures as low as -60C, dangerous overflow ice on frozen rivers and hundreds of miles of barrren, remote wilderness. this event isn't for weenies. some of the "colourful five percent" of northerners take on this race.

In his bio on the Quest website, musher Frank Turner lists his languages spoken as "Canadian and swearing". Turner has raced in every single Yukon Quest event. These guys and girls spend thousands of dollars and tons of time every year caring for dozens of dogs. the relationship betwen musher and dogs is a special one. every musher will tell you that the dogs are the athletes and the mushers are just along for the ride (and trying to stay warm).

and these mushers are tough though. one local yukoner, William Kleedehn, from carcross (an hour south of whitehorse) had to scratch (pull out) last year because his sled went through river ice during the race and he broke his leg above his prosthetic. he's favoured to win this year.

John Schandelmeier, from alaska is running a team made up of dogs entirely from the local animal shelter.

the dogs don't tend to be what you'd expect in a sled dog: the big furry husky. instead they are often wiry, short haired and a little smaller. one thing is for sure, they are born to pull. check out this video of musher Kelley Griffin (the second video in the list) and her team take off from the starting line. That sled a definitely a few hundred pounds. the thing has to be held back by a dozen people.

the sound of 300 dogs getting ready to race is indescribeable. most teams are just going nuts, barking and howling, and yelping, it's deafening. but as soon as they take off onto the trail they instantly become silent. it's the most eerie thing. some of mushers bring with them bales of hay on their sleds to bed thedogs down for a warm rest out on the trail. many of the teams run through the night, the only things guiding the way being the full moon and the instinct of the dogs. the dogs have an amazing memory for the trail.

check out the yukon quest website for daily updates on the status of the teams. we'll put some photos on our photo website too. so the 9th best thing about living in whitehorse is the yukon quest!


Blogger Neller said...

Holy crap Joel. That looks very cool.
I guess the only question is when you will be in th race? I guess you'll have to start by getting a place with a bigger yard to house your new team of dogs...
Good luck with that - and may the force be with you Sarah, as Joel discovers new and interesting ways to feed his thirst for competition -:)

Cheers kids,

7:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Lester would be up to the challenge ... !

Cheers. Alethea

12:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
I love the links pages Joel, especialy the one with the 'Yukon Personalities' Scared the crap out of the people in the office, especially the Frenchman. That is your new mission: get your picture on that page! Sarah, don't let Joel get eaten by the dogs.

5:11 AM


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