The 2009 Yukon Quest sled dog race gets underway tomorrow, with the top mushers in the world setting out from Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada, for Fairbanks, Alaska, a distance of over 1000 miles, in the heart of winter.
This is the 25th running of this classic endurance event, which often serves as a prelude to the Iditarod which begins in March. The race is expected to run anywhere from 10-16 days depending on weather conditions, and however long it takes the last team to cross the finish line. in all, there are 50 mushers and their dogs in the race, and the top 15 will share the prize money. All of the finishers receive $1000 in cash, equal to the number of miles they have covered, while the Yukon Quest Champion takes home a $35,000 prize.
The historic Yukon Quest course follows what was once a Gold Rush and mail delivery route between Whitehorse and Fairbanks. Now the trails are only used for the race each year, and it allows the competitors and their canine companions to experience some of the most amazing, pristine, backcountry anywhere on the planet. The Yukon is a remote, and desolate place, especially in winter, and only the fast and strong will come out the other side.
The odds on favorite once again this year is Lance Mackey, the four-time defending champ of this race, and two-time defending champ of the Iditarod. There are a number of other very strong mushers in the field however, with likes of Martin Buser, and Lance’s brother Jason giving chase.
The race gets underway tomorrow morning, and will continue over the next couple of weeks.
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