FAIRBANKS, Alaska – In a whirlwind start to the Yukon Quest in Fairbanks, rookies and veterans alike prepared for a fast and cold start to the 1,000 mile sled dog race.
“I think it’s perfect for around zero, five, ten below; it’s perfect for the dogs,” said two-time Quest Champion, Allen Moore. “They don’t get hot, and they can just go indefinitely. The heat is what really inhibits dogs from running very far,” said the 60-year-old mushing veteran.
Defending champion, 26-year-old Matt Hall of Two Rivers, brought a younger dog team this year, but was reminded by his fiancé not to worry about everyone else. “You’re running your own race,” Hall said, as he recounted what she told him, that it “doesn’t matter what everybody is expecting you to do. It’s only you.”
While the cooler temperatures were stressful to the rookies, race veterans know it’s just part of the race. “It’s an old school, Jack London-type feel to this race,” said Quest veteran and two-time champion Hugh Neff, of Tok.
At 10:00 PM on Saturday, Matt Hall was leading through his hometown checkpoint of Two Rivers. Mile 101 is the race’s next checkpoint. This year’s finish line is located in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.