Plans are coming together for shortened versions of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on either side of the US-Canada border, after the organization cancelled the 1,000 mile race for 2021.
Sighting financial troubles and travel restrictions across the border due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quest organizers announced in June that both Alaska and Yukon side directors had decided to scrap the thousand-mile international event. They decided instead to focus on shorter races next year, but now one side won’t host any 2021 Quest events at all.
On the Yukon side, Quest staff announced yesterday that there will not be a race this coming February. Originally, a mid-distance event was scheduled to start in Whitehorse, but according to the Yukon Quest Board in Canada (YQIA) the best choice was to cancel this year’s running.
The Board cited restrictions to international travel, economic challenges for local sponsors, and the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 through the ten Yukon communities along the race route as the reason for its decision.
Meanwhile, Quest vice present Peter Kamper says the Alaska side has enough money to put on the Quest 300, the 300-mile qualifying race normally held in the back round of the thousand-mile main event.
Kamper says the Alaskan Board of Directors is renaming the 300 Mile Race: “The Summit Quest”, because of its inclusion of Rosebud and Eagle Summits, the 2 highest peaks on the Quest trail.
KUAC Radio in Fairbanks contributed to this report.
Image at top: Brent Sass arrives into Whitehorse to win the 2020 Yukon Quest. Photo from Whitney McLaren, Yukon Quest, used with permission.