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Decades of fun: Yukon Quest is looking forward to its 30th run

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Posted: Monday, October 15, 2012 11:54 pm | Updated: 4:16 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

With new snow on the ground, Interior Alaskans will be dreaming about sliding. Not on the roads in a car. That’s more nightmarish.

No, they’re dreaming about skis, snowmachines and dog sleds — things meant to slide across the snow.

This winter will feature a milestone for one of the most beloved snow-dependent events in the Interior. The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race celebrates its 30th running in 2013.

The race will begin in Whitehorse, Yukon, on Feb. 2, and the first mushers will arrive in Fairbanks nine or 10 days later after traveling 1,000 miles across the frozen North. Twenty-two mushers have signed up already, including eight rookies, which is encouraging to see.

The organization has its race management team in place. Money is being raised. Sponsors are signing up. TransCanada, a company that Alaskans are accustomed to hearing about in other contexts, recently continued its major sponsorship for the sixth year. The Yukon government also recently added $50,000 to the $150,000 it previously committed.

Many mushers gathered this past weekend in Fairbanks for the International Sled Dog Symposium, sponsored by the Alaska Dog Mushers Association. The Quest organization held a 30th birthday party during the symposium to rev up excitement for the coming race.

Cold might be what distinguishes Interior Alaska, but snow is what makes that cold bearable. Once laid down in enough quantity, it offers a whole new set of recreational opportunities.

Dog mushing is one of the most unique and interesting of those, and the Fairbanks area acts as a cultural center for the activity. As time goes by, the sport is diversifying, but the fundamental fun derived from dogs pulling people doesn’t change. The Yukon Quest has had its ups and downs, but three decades is testament to just how much fun it is.

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