Listen to reporting of the Yukon Quest’s Summit Sled Dog Race on KUAC FM! Reporters Lex Treinen and Dan Bross provide coverage of this pandemic version of the race which starts Feb. 13 in Fairbanks. From Feb. 11-17, hear all the fascinating tales from the trail and follow KUAC’s Quest updates & photos on social media.
Thanks to our sponsors: North Pole Veterinary Hospital, Kinross Fort Knox, Shannon & Wilson and Golden Heart Emergency Physicians.
Here’s a Q&A with Lex.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to watching how the mushers do going over Rosebud and Eagle Summits. In a normal year, those can be a deciding factor in a race and with the shorter distance this year, they’ll be even more significant! I’m hoping I’ll have time to hike over to Eagle Summit from the highway (it’s about a 30-minute walk from the highway through sometimes deep snow drifts) but with the fast pace of the race, that might not happen.
Are there complications for you being on the trail during a pandemic?
I’ll be taking a few extra COVID-19 precautions for this year’s race. Organizers are trying to keep the footprint of the race small and aren’t providing school gyms for reporters to crash in. Luckily, my Dad has a camper van that he’s letting me drive up (his donation to the Quest). To get internet out on the Steese Highway, I found a gracious resident of Circle who is allowing me to park in front of their house while I’m there. And I’ll be eating mostly camping meals, but am hoping to stop for a meal at the Central Roadhouse or at the famous Circle village bake sale.
I’ll also be carrying a mic boom that will extend my reach six feet. And of course, I’ll be masking around any crowds.
What surprises may we expect?
I think the return of former champion Hugh Neff to the Quest race is a surprise in itself that I’ll be watching. He’s had a rocky history with the Quest organization and hasn’t been racing much over the last couple years, so it will be interesting to see what attitude and form he and his dogs bring.
This year will really be a test of the Quest organization after losing a longtime Alaska race director, having a relatively low musher turnout last year, and of course, navigating a global pandemic. Pulling off a successful race with happy dogs, no COVID-19 disruptions, and attracting the attention of fans will be key to putting on a successful 1000-mile race next year.