Yukon Quest – 2009


Comprehensive Yukon Quest Coverage on KUAC

2009 Yukon Quest coverage started with pre-race reports on Feb. 13th, 2009. KUAC news reporter, Dan Bross reported from the trail each weekday at 7:30am, 8:30am, & 12:30pm.

The dog teams took off February 14th, 2009 from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and the race wraped up with the awards banquet in Fairbanks on Saturday, Feb 28th, 2009.

The Yukon Quest celebrated its 26th year and spans 1,000 miles of the toughest terrain ever covered by dogsled. As teams race through the wilderness of Alaska and the Yukon, they face the raw uncertainty of nature: windswept mountains, frigid temperatures and long dark nights. The team with the best combination of excellent dog care, calculated strategy and luck wins.

Click on each day, February 13 – March 1, 2009, below to see photos and read Dan’s trail notes.

FAIRBANKS, AK (2009-02-13) A firsthand look at some of the race participants, including rookie Mark Sleightholme, who will be first out of the shoot at the race start.

Loaders are working to cover the street outside my hotel with snow. The seemingly backward project is so dog teams can head out through town and onto the Yukon Quest trail Saturday morning.

Last night was the start banquet where mushers gather for a final social event before the race. Sponsors were thanked, and racers drew their numbers from a hat. There were also some prize drawings. Quest veteran Hugh Neff of Whitehorse was the lucky winner of a new parka (as seen in the photo).

Whitehorse is an inviting town, with a wide main street and a mix of essential and esoteric stores. It also has an amazing indoor sports center with skating rinks, a pool etc.

Natural beauty abounds everywhere, with the Yukon River running through town, and snow capped mountains in the immediate view shed.

The main source of employment seems to be government jobs. There’s no big industry except tourism, but people seem to want to be here.

WHITEHORSE, YUKON (2009-02-14) The Quest begins today out of Whitehorse.

I think everybody is ready to see things get underway. It’s been clear and cold, and there’s plenty of snow here in the Whitehorse area. I went running on snowmachine trails with Newsminer reporter Mattias Saari yesterday, and it turned into an epic trek through deep snow up on the bluffs above Whitehorse. We got back as the sun was setting and casting a rosy alpine glow across the surrounding peaks. Good to get some exercise between long sessions at the computer. I’m trying to maintain some fitness, but that will hard over the next 10 plus days.

There’s an unprecedented number of media following this year’s race. At a briefing today, it was announced that over one hundred reporters, photographers and videographers will be part of the media circus on the trail. That’s largely do to 4 video projects in the works, including a very well funded German t.v. documentary. The problem with so many needing access is that some of the checkpoints consist of little cabins that can’t accommodate many people, let alone the demand for power and internet. It’s likely people will be filming, snapping pictures and recording audio and then heading somewhere else to process and write.

I’m again teaming up with CBC reporter Cheryl Kawaja to cover the half of the trail from Whitehorse to Dawson City. She’s also a radio reporter, as well as a really nice person, so I’m glad it’s worked out. We are leaving behind the comforts of good food and comfortable hotel rooms. Until Dawson, it will be napping on the floor and in the truck, and eating snacks.

The Quest is fun, but exhausting. Sometimes I envy the dogs, just running, eating and sleeping. That must be amazing. Perhaps in a future life.

FAIRBANKS, AK (2009-02-17) Yukon Quest Update for Sunday, February 15th.

It was 20 below and sunny at the start. I kept my hands from freezing by only working short periods with exposed fingers, and keeping fresh hand warmers inside my gloves. I did not want to repeat last year when I froze my fingers at the start.

Things went off pretty smoothly for most teams. Kyla Boivin had trouble getting her sled prepped, and has all sorts of people working to help her get ready. She had to drill holes in her runners to get new plastic on, but made it out on time in the 2nd start position. She was working with tools with bare hands for some time. She must have good circulation.

Mushers were all happy to get on the trail. So are the media. CBC reporter Cheryl and I are headed up the road to follow the race. The first checkpoint at Braeburn only consists of tiny lodge. There’s very little space for all the quest mushers and race people, let alone the media. The Quest 300 is also happening, so there will be a large number of dogs and mushers at the first stop. There is wireless internet at Braeburn, but with over a hundred media following this year’s race, it may be impossible to send anything out.

FAIRBANKS, AK (2009-02-16) Yukon Quest Noon Update for Monday, February 16th.

Drove from Braeburn to Carmacks early Sunday morning, after spending most of the night at a busy Braebeurn Lodge checkpoint. The place was packed with mushers, race officials, vets, and media. Amazingly, the wireless internet handled all the use and most people were able to get their stuff out. There was one short blackout, but headlamps and laptops kept people moving. After about 3 am Sunday, everyone started falling asleep in chairs. We all felt rough today.

My computer picked up a virus, which I was able to kill. A real scare, as without my computer, work stops.

Carmacks is a pretty place, where the Yukon and Nordenskiold rivers converge. It’s named for George Carmack, who’s gold discovery triggered the Klondike Rush. The checkpoint is a community center with an indoor curling rink, pitch, alley (I’m sure there’s a real name for that). Nice set up. The outside temperature warmed from -35 F this morning.

The Quest media circus continues, and our access is much more limited this year. We pretty much have to wait for mushers to come inside the checkpoint to talk with them. So far it’s working o.k. I’ll try to get some sleep tonight, before heading to the next stops on the trail: McCabe Creek Dog Drop, and then Pelly Crossing, about 250 miles into the race. We are travelling the Klondike Highway, which runs north/south between Whitehorse and Dawson City. The beat goes on.

FAIRBANKS, AK (2009-02-17) Leaders are closing in on the halfway point of the Yukon Quest. Jon Little is in the lead, out of the Scroggie Creek Dog Drop this morning at 4.

The race is heating up with several mushers really pushing the pace toward Dawson and the gold poke that awaits the first to arrive. Frontrunners include Jon Little, William Kleedehn, Martin Buser, Hans Gatt, Hugh Neff, Sebastian Schnuelle and Brent Sass. It’s very difficult to tell who really has the lead, because they rest at different times and often leap frog one another. They’re also travelling a remote 200 mile stretch of trail where there’s no easy media access. The first musher is expected to arrive in Dawson Tuesday evening. There’s much speculation that the frontrunners have trimmed rest, and may pay for that in the second half of the race after Dawson. Those that have fallen behind them certainly hope so.

Brent Sass’s dad Mark tells me that Brent trains his team to run 20 hours, 100 plus miles, pretty much non-stop, and that he may employ such a run on the way into Dawson.

I moved up the trail from Carmacks to Pelly Crossing Monday, with a stop in between at McCabe Creek.

Before leaving, I caught up with Jason Mackey, Lance’s younger brother, at Carmacks. He’s fallen back in the standings due to a sick dog and a couple with some soreness. He says he had to make an unplanned rest stop Sunday when bright sunshine overheated his dogs. Now he’s trying to get back on a nighttime running schedule to avoid the problem. He says his team is trained for power, and expects it to move up in the standings in the Black Hills and over King Solomon’s Dome on the way into Dawson. One of his handlers is Tonya Mackey, Lance’s wife. She served as one of Lance’s handlers during the last 4 year’s, when he won the Quest 4 times. Jason says they don’t really know each other that well, but it made sense to have her along because of her trail knowledge. Tonya says it’s been tough for Lance sitting out this year’s Quest back home in Fairbanks, and she’s providing him regular updates on Jason’s progress.

I met some California tourists travelling the trail today. They’re driving between Whitehorse and Dawson for the first half, stopping at checkpoints. Everyone just assumes they’re involved with the race somehow, or with the media. Unlike Iditarod, tourists are few on the Quest trail.

The McCabe Creek dog drop is on a small farm, and there were few reporters there Monday, so I got a little closer to the action.

Being a gear junkie, I was intrigued by how mushers deck out their sleds with specialized bags, thermometers and even headlights. More racers are running so called tail dragger sleds that have an extra platform and gear bag set up on the runners behind the driver. Jeff King popularized the design several years back in the Iditarod. It allows more gear storage and a nice place to sit on while riding, but there are concerns about tracking through technical trails and jumble ice, or getting a foot jammed under the rear basket. They also eliminate running behind the sled. Mushers using tail draggers have the option to detach the rear deck and stow it inside the front sled bag.

I had a chance to talk with a few mushers more easily in the casual atmosphere at McCabe. Newton Marshall, the Jamaican was there. He’s a very quiet guy, who smiles easily and is a little weary of all the media attention he’s getting. He is quite at home in the cold and snow and with his dogs. He says he’s following a schedule Hans Gatt lined out for him, and has to slow the dogs down to stay with it. He told me he wants to stay in the north and run dogs after the Quest, even though his job at dog cart tour operation in Jamaica is waiting for him. No Jimmy Buffet sightings so far “mon”.

2-18-09 Dawson City, Yukon. Seven teams have reached Dawson City, the halfway point on the Quest trail.

There was a very intense competition for the run to the Quest halfway point at Dawson City. Race fans and media waited for over an hour and were surprised when William Kleedehn was the first to arrive and claim the halfway gold. Everyone was expecting it to be Jon little, but Kleedehn apparently passed him just outside town when Little’s dogs stopped briefly.

It was a really exciting situation for the media to cover with 2 teams coming in 2 minutes apart. Unfortunately the quest officials totally blew it. They held media back and then let mushers go before we could ask any questions. Me and a couple other reporters went running after Kleedehn and got him to answer a quick question, but Little set off before we could get him. There were major complaints about how the situation was handled. Officials subsequently changed the policy and will now bring us into the chute after mushers are checked. The arrangement worked fine the rest of the night. It’s amazing how much apprehension there is about reporters. Race officials should be glad media outlets cover the event (at great expense). If they really want it to continue or even grow, news coverage is an important avenue for getting the amazing Quest story out.

This has been an intense day/night…it’s 5:30 am…gotta get some sleep. I feel like I need 36 hour rest in Dawson, just like the doggies, but it’s not happening. I’ll settle for a cat nap.

2-19-09 Dawson City, Yukon

The mandatory 36-hour layover in Dawson is almost over for the frontrunners of the race. Dan Bross talks with John Little, who held first for much of the first 500 miles, but who missed the half-point first place prize by only two minutes.

The top 3 teams got back on the trail in Dawson City this morning after their mandatory 36 hour layover. Yukon Quest head veterinarian Kathleen McGill praised those mushers who have carried injured or tired dogs in their sleds. KUAC’s Dan Bross reports from Dawson City, the halfway point of the Yukon Quest race.

Beautiful sunny day in Dawson City Wednesday. Mushers, race officials, fans and media are all feeling better after getting showers, good food and beds in Dawson. The doggies are also set up sweet in the campground across the Yukon River. Mushers have straw lined tents so the dogs can rest up for the second half of the race. Some mushers stay in heated tents next to their dogs, while others leave that duty up to their handlers. It’s time to energized for the run to Fairbanks. Went to the mushers meeting Wednesday night and got the low down on the upcoming trail conditions. Apparently things are looking good. The Quest has done a great job pulling resources and organization together to improve the Alaska side trail. A lot of volunteers use their own machines to punch in the trail, sometimes hacking the way through jumble ice. Trail coordinator John Schandlemier says over a thousand wooden lathe mark the trail on the Alaska side.

2-20-09 Dawson City, Yukon
Two more teams scratch in Dawson city as the second half of the race begins for frontrunners.

The two top teams have made it to the Eagle Checkpoint, mushers William Kleedehn and Hugh Neff. KUAC’s Dan Bross talks with retired musher, Frank Turner about race strategies and the top teams so far in the race.

Thursday was cloudy and about 10 above. It was great weather to spend a day at the dog camp set up across the Yukon River from Dawson. It’s a nice spot right on the river and only race officials and vets are allowed to drive in there, so it’s pretty quiet. The idea is not to disturb the dog’s power sleep.

I love camping and it’s fun to see the dog camps. Mushers string tarps up and line the ground underneath with straw for the dogs to sleep on. Most also have another tent for people. It’s usually an Arctic Oven, a special tent made in Fairbanks, that has a wood stove inside for comfortable winter camping.

Mushers pretty much let the dogs rest, only waking them to eat, get a massage, or go for walk.

It’s fun to watch mushers hook up their teams when it’s time to leave. The lead dogs hold the lines to the sled out and patiently wait as the rest of the team is harnesses and snapped into the gang line. Then the musher goes along and puts booties on all the dog’s feet. The dogs are used to the drill, and some even lift their paws for the boots to go on.

The sleds mushers use are of 2 primary types (see pictures): toboggan and tail dragger. Some are vey fancy with carbon fiber runners, and are quite expensive. The fabric bags inside the sled are also customized to accommodate tools and gear inside or strapped to the sides and top. It’s amazing how much gear and food fits in when packed properly.

2-21-09 Eagle, Alaska

Back in the U.S.A.: arrived in Eagle, Ak. from Dawson City, Yukon late Friday afternoon. A major snow squall turned around the early flight from Dawson to Eagle, so our trip was pushed back several hours.

I asked our pilot about an interesting trail I saw out the plane’s window, and he said the area is laced with trails from gold prospecting days. He said every stone has been turned over in the search for gold around Dawson.

Back to the dog race: William Kleedehn is on record pace, and ran something insane like 17 hours with just 5 hours rest, between Dawson and Eagle. He said he wanted the dogs tired going through the jumble ice after Eagle so they don’t go too fast and get hurt.

Many mushers I’ve talked to say dogs can handle longer runs (100 plus miles) with less rest than previously though, if they are trained properly. They say human’s need for sleep may be the limiting factor in dog’s ultra endurance capacity.

A few reporters ran into a media blockade at Eagle today. Several of us missed Hugh Neff inside the checkpoint due to our late flight, and that left us standing behind a “No media beyond this point” sign and an orange line on the snow, 50 yards from where Neff and his team were hanging out. All kinds of other people, including kids, were allowed to freely move around the dog yard, but we (3 reporters) were denied access. This is arbitrary and detrimental to the race. The Iditarod does not exercise such draconian control. Is there a better way to handle the situation: yes, but it requires a creative solution somewhere between a free for all, and no access. How about parking spots for dog teams painted on the snow? That would line out a protective buffer zone for each team, and media could be required to get permission from a race official and the musher to approach.

Sad news about the scratch of rookie Josh Cadzow. A lot of people were rooting for this young man in his first Yukon Quest. He ran out of food and mushed the last 100 miles into Dawson earlier this week. He figures that broke his leaders trust and they would not go for him when he tried to leave Dawson after his mandatory 36 hour rest. He says he regrets not requesting food from race officials and taking a time penalty on the way to Dawson. Maybe that decision shouldn’t be left up to mushers. Should it be required that if you run out of food you have to accept assistance and a penalty?

We spent a fair amount of time driving back and forth to the Airport in Dawson city today due to the weather delay. The shuttle driver was the guy who administers the “sour toe” cocktail at the Downtown Hotel Bar. He told us the drink with a mummified human toe in it, is trademarked, and that they have backup toes because people occasionally chew up, or even swallow the toe. He says some “sour-toers” even throw up. YUCK.

2-22-09 Eagle, Alaska

Nice day in Eagle Saturday. It was pretty warm here again and that made it fun to check out the teams coming into the dog yard at the checkpoint.

Quest rookie musher Normand Casavant is a real character. The French Canadian drove a very peppy team into Eagle Saturday and immediately ran up to cuddle his dogs, telling them: “bon chien”. Later inside the checkpoint he told reporters his dogs are happy because he is, and that he sings to them on the trail. When I asked for a sample song, he obliged. You can hear the clip in the 2-22 audio KUAC Quest update.

This year’s race has been pretty tame so far. There have been a few ups and downs, but nothing dramatic, and the weather has been quite nice. This contrasts with recent years where there have been injured mushers, storms, rescues and the like. I’ve also noticed most mushers staying pretty emotionally level. Usually sleep deprivation and trail tribulations result in a roller coaster of highs and lows.

Dan Kaduce shared a story about loosing his team on the way up American Summit before Eagle. He says he was adjusting his gloves when the dogs accelerated for some reason, and he was thrown off the back. He says he ran after the sled, but the dogs would always stay a few feet ahead of him. Finally he gave up, and when the team got out of range of his headlamp it stopped, and he was able to walk up in the darkness and jump back on. He says it was the first time he’s ever lost his team in a race.

The frontrunners are into the final 250 miles of the Yukon Quest, and it appears it’s William Kleedehn’s race, but nothing’s certain in dog mushing. Former Quest champion and Alaska side trail coordinator, John Schandlemier talked about some of the potential problems. He says high winds have closed the Steese Highway over Eagle Summit in recent days, and that there are a lot of moose in the Angel Creek area.

2-23-09 Eagle, Alaska. Drama along the mountain climb at Eagle Summit.

The Quest took an interesting turn today. Hugh Neff closed the gap on William Kleedehn on the run to Central, but after both mushers left the checkpoint, race officials announced that Neff had been given a 2 hour time penalty. Race Marshall Doug Grilliot says Neff was witnessed mushing on an icy fast road for over 5 miles, instead of on the slower race trail. The timing of the announcement kept reporters from asking Neff about what happened, but his side of the story will come out when we catch up with him down the trail at Twin Bears, where mushers have to take an 8 hour break. Make that 9 hours in Neff’s case.

The weather continues to be awesome, mostly above zero during the day, although it was super windy in Eagle this morning. I was dreading a bumpy flight to Circle, but we only suffered few stomach drops en route. Even though I love where they take me, I hate flying in small planes. I’ve gotten really sick a couple times over the years, and I haven’t forgotten the feeling.

The trek over Eagle Summit is normally the crux of the Yukon Quest. Going in this direction mushers have to get their dogs up a very steep pitch that has stalled teams in the past. It’s usually quite windy up there, but reports are that the trail is in good shape this year. We’ll soon find out.

There are mixed reviews coming in about the jumble ice section of the Yukon River between Eagle and Circle. William Kleedehn says it was the glare ice that caused him the most trouble. He says a thin snow covering made it hard to tell where the ice was, and he wiped out several times. Sebastian Schnuelle says the jumble wasn’t too bad, and that this year’s smoother trail is what you need to attract more top professionals to the Quest. He also noted improved signage that’s made the trail far more user friendly for rookies.

2-24-09 Eagle, Alaska. Sebastian Schnuelle heads towards Fairbanks at the lead of the pack.
Will he break Lance Mackey’s record for fastest finish?
We have a winner! Sebastian Schneulle edged out Hugh Neff by just 4 minutes to cross the finish line in Downtown Fairbanks.

It took a while, but the Quest has returned to its normal crazy status. After 8 days of pretty smooth going, news that Hugh Neff was penalized 2 hours for mushing on the road into Central instead of the race trail came as a shock. The penalty for not staying on the trail isn’t defined in the rules and left up to the discretion of the race Marshall. It’s hard to say what’s fair in such a situation, but if the penalty was lined out in the rule book, well than at least you could say it’s the same for everyone. The subjective penalty determined in Neff’s case, begs questions…why not a $ fine? Why 2 hours in such a close race? When questioned about the penalty, Race Marshall Doug Grilliot said it was meant to be disciplinary, as much as make up for any time Neff (2nd position) might have gained on then race leader William Kleedehn, by gliding along the icy road surface.

Eagle Summit has done it again: thrown a wrench in the standings. William Kleedehn, Hugh Neff and John Little mushed right into a wind storm Sunday night, while Sebastian Schnuelle, by hanging back and resting more, found better weather over the summit. Kudos to Brent Sass for hauling Kleedehn’s leaders to the top (Schnuelle got Kleedehn halfway up the climb earlier, but abandoned when he saw Neff and Little getting away).

Great to be back home, as I’ll be producing out of Fairbanks throughout the rest of the race. Family and dogs very glad to se me, and vice versa. Made it to town from 101 Dog Drop courtesy of William Kleedehn’s handlers, Peter and Faye. Thank you. I arrived just in time to go on Alaska News Nightly live and talk about the exciting action in the Quest.

The final Quest checkpoint is at Twin Bears, and the set up was quite good, although no wireless internet, and Schnuelle said it was tricky following the trail into the checkpoint. A few people also drove right by the entrance to Twin Bears camp n Chena Hot Ssprings Road. The state park’s sign is too small. The Quest should have it’s own large reflective checkpoint sign set up. It’s dark out there, although not as dark as Eagle, where if you didn’t have a light, you could walk right into a tree!

Finish tomorrow…will there be any more surprises???

Bummed to hear Mike Ellis scratched at Circle. Mike is a very nice guy, who like all Quest mushers, puts so much into his dogs and race preparation. Not sure what went wrong, but likely he was running out of dogs. He had concerns at Dawson. He still has the most Hollywood team with those pretty Siberian pure breads. Hope Mike and Sue, the New Hampshire mushing duo, stay in Alaska.

2-25-09 Fairbanks, Alaska

Wow. What a finish. Congratulations Sebastian, Hugh, and Jon on their record breaking finish times, and everybody else, especially the dogs, for their hard work, and driving spirit in this year’s Quest.

That said, the finish was bitter sweet. Sure the Schnuelle’s edging Neff by 4 minutes was a record close finish and very exciting, but it wouldn’t have been that way if Neff hadn’t been penalized 2 hours for choosing to run on the faster road surface, instead of the trail on the way to Central. Opting for the road was wrong, and Neff admits it, but was 2 hour penalty given the closeness of the race, fair discipline? I don’t know. If he was back in the pack or at least farther behind the winner, it would’ve been no big deal, but sadly the penalty affected the outcome of the race. Not sure where to go on this, but other mushers tell me it’s not the first time a racer has run on the road in this section. I guess this year’s incident and penalty had more to do with the circumstances and the fact that several people witnessed the violation.

Quite the finishing sprint between Martin Buser and Michelle Phillips Tuesday night. The dogs looked like they were really having fun, and Michelle and Martin seemed to enjoy the run to the line as well. It was certainly fun to watch. What are odds of 2 such close finishes in a thousand mile race?

2-26-09 Fairbanks, Alaska

13 mushers and teams have made it to the Fairbanks finish line, including Jamaican musher Newton Marshall. Sleep deprivation can play a role in the mushers’ performances, especially towards the end of the race as KUAC’s Dan Bross reports.

Sorry to hear that Kyla Boivin scratched from the race. Apparently she couldn’t get her dogs up Eagle Summit. The news is especially disappointing because Kyla had totally overhauled her team with new dogs from William Kleedehn, and was running in a solid 15th place. She won the Red Lantern in last year’s race. Boivin is popular along the trail for her gruff, but funny comments.

Now for a long overdue mention of the much under acknowledged role of handlers. These people are very important in the Quest at the 36 hour layover in Dawson where they takeover dog care and help rejuvenate the animals for the second half of the race. Often they’re spouses, partners, family or friends. They’re also charged with taking care of dropped dogs, the dog truck, and mountains of gear, as well as logging over a thousand miles on the road between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, and spots in between. Having a good handler is key to a successful Yukon Quest run.

Should see a good group of finishers make their way to Fairbanks today. Hope you can get down to the Chena River to greet a team or two. They’ve worked hard to get here.

2-27-09 Fairbanks, Alaska

Two mushers came across the finish line this morning in Fairbanks. Yuka Honda scratched at Mile 101 Dog Drop, so that leaves just 2 teams still out on the Quest trail. KUAC’s Dan Bross has this report from the trail.

I was on hand early yesterday morning for Newton Marshall’s finish. It was a feel good scene, complete with some live calypso music from local musicians who set up on the river bank. Newton Marshall’s is an amazing rags to riches story. He’s learned to read and write, become a tour guide, and professional musher, and now a Quest finisher all within a few years. He says it’s possible he’ll run the Iditarod next.

There were 2 more scratches yesterday, with veteran Russ Bybee and rookie Jason Mackey dropping out. Don’t know hat happened to Russ, but it appears that Mackey’s 7 dog team refused to take him up Eagle Summit. It’s a bummer for the brother of the race’s 4 time champion Lance. Jason had put an awful lot of pressure on himself, and I hope he doesn’t take it too hard. Several other very good mushers didn’t make it as far as he did.

Everybody still in the race has made it past Eagle Summit. That’s awesome. Rookies Becca Moore, Iris Wood Sutton and Yuka Honda all made it over the steep mountain side yesterday, and are likely to make it to the finish now. Fresh snow and warm temperatures have slowed running conditions, so it might take them a little longer to get in.

2-28-09 Fairbanks, Alaska

Two teams are still on the Yukon Quest Trail.

There’s nothing like two weeks on the Quest trail to bond people that otherwise might not cross paths in life. Whether it’s mushers Becca Moore and Iris Wood Sutton, who worked together to make it through the end of the race, or me and Newsminer reporter Matias Saari, who shared information to get our stories out. Intense experiences can bring out the best in people.

This race goes into the record book as one that started out with us wondering what to report on, and finished with flare, as the standings at the front changed dramatically in a single day. I think I’ll remember that, and Jamaican Newton Marshall’s story the most. It was also the year of massive media coverage and over policing by Quest officials. Fortunately, by the end of the race, it was clear that we could be trusted not to hurt anyone, and things loosened up. Much appreciated.

I really respect the amazing Quest volunteers that staff checkpoints, groom the trail, operate the ham radio network, cook food, and so on. It’s great individual contributions that together make an international race feel like a community event.

3-1-09 Fairbanks, Alaska

KUAC’s Dan Bross covers the final Yukon Quest Banquet.

I’m feeling relieved and sad that the Quest is over. It’s a ton of work to cover the race, but it’s also a remarkable experience. The people, the dogs and the country are all amazing.

Quest mushers are inspiring people because they are pursuing a dream, and an alternative lifestyle/reality. There’s an admirable simplicity to logging lots of time on the runners and seeing the dogs progress and do what they/you love. That’s got to focus and quiet your mind…something we all could use.

I really want to run this race someday. I used to have a dog team, and I’m not sure I’m ready, or can afford to do that again, but the idea of working for another musher and running a puppy team is really appealing. Thanks for reading, listening and sharing the Quest with me. Sorry about the typos. Dan

Yukon Quest