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The Yukon Quest 300

Six hours after the Yukon Quest starts, a second race gets under way, the 300 mile race from Whitehorse to Pelly Crossing. When I saw Allen Moore’s name on the Quest starting grid I wondered if his wife, Aliy Zirkle, might be running in the 300. Aliy is the only woman to win the Quest, she did it in 2000, and has been trying to win the Iditarod ever since.

Allen and Aliy’s kennel is actually running two teams in the 300, probably as a warm up for the Iditarod, and to help her select her team for the race. And Aliy’s isn’t the only familiar name in the race. Longtime Iditarod mushers Jessie Royer and Gerry Willomitzer are also in the race, probably for the same reason as Aliy, warming up, without tiring out, their Iditarod teams.

But there were some lesser known names that were familiar to me, that I don’t expect to see at the Iditarod.

From a 2009 Yukon Quest post: “Yuka Honda (24), the Japanese school teacher, scratched at the Mile 101, another victim of Eagle Summit. She spent nearly 32 hours on the trail from Central to Mile 101 getting over the mountain. She made an attempt to climb Rosebud, but had to turn around.”

Ms Honda’s experience is why it takes almost a day longer to go from Whitehorse to Fairbanks than in the reverse direction, and no doubt is why she is in the 300 instead of the Quest. That Eagle Summit – Rosebud climb at the end of the race is brutal.

But the real surprise was another individual I talked about on that same Quest: “But the best is the reporter for the Yukon News who has been covering the Quest, Genesee Keevil, who plays the stand-up bass with Sasquatch Prom Date, a local band.”

Ms Keevil isn’t writing about the races, she is participating with a team of “waifs and strays”. I will miss her interesting take on sled dog racing. Actually, I’m a bit annoyed by the way the Canadian media seems to ignore the sport. There was a lot of coverage in 2009, but not much since.