Yukon Quest - Dawson City

Dogs from the team of Whitehorse veteran Michelle Phillips rest in the Dawson City dog yard on Wednesday afternoon. Laying down at right is 7-year-old Apollo. This is Apollo’s fifth Yukon Quest, he has also run four Iditarods and Phillips has turned to Apollo for help in previous races. Feb. 6, 2019.

The Canada board of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race has canceled its 2021 race.  

“We did not make this decision lightly,” said Bev Regier, board president. The race, which had been scheduled to start Feb. 6 in Whitehorse, faced major impacts, including border restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, economic challenges for race sponsors and potential COVID-19 exposure to communities in the Yukon along the race route. “We have a responsibility to look at all aspects of the organization and an even greater responsibility to keep our communities’ health a priority.”

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is a 1,000-mile race that runs between Fairbanks and Whitehorse each February. Due to the pandemic, however, Alaska and Yukon decided to hold separate races on each side of the border.

But because the proposed shorter race would have traveled through many First Nations communities in the Yukon, the Canada side decided it was too risky. The pandemic also has affected the availability of volunteers and restricted the entrance of international mushers into the Yukon, the news release stated.

On the Alaska side, race organizers are planning a revised version of the Yukon Quest 300, which traditionally runs from Fairbanks, crosses two of the most intimidating mountains on the 1,000-mile course — Rosebud and Eagle Summit — and ends in either Central or Circle. Race rules have yet to be announced, but musher signups will be held starting at 2 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Howling Dog Saloon. The race, a Yukon Quest and Iditarod qualifier, will start on Feb. 13, 2021, at 11 a.m. in Fairbanks.

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.