Iditarod veteran Jessie Royer will be first out of the chute tomorrow morning at the start of the 2017 Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. Picking Bib #1 at yesterday’s official Start & Draw Banquet, Royer will lead a diverse field of 21 competitors crossing from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, headed to Fairbanks.
This will be Royer’s rookie run in the Yukon Quest, although she’s been running dogs for 25 years. She has claimed a spot in the top 20 in Iditarod the past three years in a row – with her best run in 2015, taking 4th place.
While surveying the field of mushers in preparation for this year’s Yukon Quest, Alaska Executive Director Marti Steury says “it’s always funny to call really well-established dog drivers ‘rookies.’ You know, it’s a strange sort of thing.”
All of this year’s Quest rookies have been running dogs between 8-25 years. Royer will be joined by Ben Good of North Pole, Ed Stielstra of Michigan, French competitor Sébastien Dos Santos Borges, and western Alaska musher Katherine Keith of Kotzebue, who will leave in 19th position out of the chute tomorrow.
Big names like Allen Moore, Brent Sass, Ryne Olson, and reigning 2016 champion Hugh Neff will join international competitors, like Yuka Honda of Japan, who will be second to head out on the trail tomorrow morning.
The 34th annual running of the Yukon Quest starts Saturday at 11:00 A.M.