FAIRBANKS — Veteran mushers competing in the 2019 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race can count on seeing some familiar faces along the trail.
The Quest announced its team of officials for the 36th running of the race, which will begin Feb. 2 in Whitehorse, Yukon, and finish in Fairbanks.
Doug Harris will be back as Race Marshal for a second straight year. The Whitehorse native held the position in 2000 and ’01 before returning as marshal for last year’s race.
He also previously served as the Race Marshal for the Quest-organized YQ300 — a 300-mile race that follows the same trail as the 1,000 mile race for the first couple hundred miles — in 2009. Harris also finished the 1,000-mile Quest as a musher in 1996 and ’98.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out on the trail, meeting new people and returning to the checkpoints,” Harris said in a Quest news release. “This role provides a unique opportunity to see the new innovations in equipment, different race strategies and improvements in dog care that come with each running of the race.”
Harris will be joined by Dr. Nina Hansen, who will return for her fifth year as the race’s head veterinarian and 10th year as an on-trail vet.
“This job is one I look forward to every year,” Hansen said in the release. “It’s so great to get out there and work with the dogs. I’m looking forward to hitting the trail for my 10th year and working with returning and new members of the race team.”
Briana Mackay also will return to the race, stepping into a new position as race manager after serving as the assistant race manager for three races.
“I’m excited to be back on the race team and take on this larger role,” Mackay said in the release. “My previous position was base on the Yukon side, so this will give me an opportunity to see more of the race on the Alaska side of the border which is fantastic.”
Mackay will be joined by Heather Scannell, who will take on a new role as the assistant race manager. Scannell isn’t a stranger to the Quest, however. She was the Two Rivers checkpoint manager for the past three races and also served as a handler in the Quest, Iditarod and Copper Basin 300, in addition to working as the kennel manager and guide at Paws for Adventure in Fairbanks.
The Quest also included a thank you to Alex Olesen in its release. Olesen stepped down as race manager at the 2018 race banquet in Whitehorse.
Thirty-one mushers are signed up for the 2019 Quest, and 25 more are registered for the YQ300.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMQuest and @FDNMSportsGuy.