The 15 mushers attempting the 37th running of the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race drew for their bib numbers and starting positions on Thursday night at the Quest’s Start and Draw Banquet at the Westmark Hotel in downtown Fairbanks.
Forty-six-year-old Yukon Quest veteran Richie Beattie, of Two Rivers, will be leading the pack out of Fairbanks.
"I really dig it. ... It’s nice to get out ahead of things,” Beattie said after taking an official photo with bib No. 1.
The Quest will be Beattie’s first since 2007, when he finished 16th with the team of dogs he first started mushing with. He also raced in 2006 and finished ninth.
“Those couple Quests gave me a pretty good understanding of what I would need in a dog team to do really well in the Quest,” Beattie said. “I spent a long time carefully, selectively breeding up this team and training them for this type of event.”
He raced the Iditarod for the first time last year with his new team and, according to Beattie, they were “excellent.” He finished 21st and also earned the Rookie of the Year title.
Rounding out the pack of Quest mushers will be defending Quest champion Brent Sass.
“It is what it is. If it was a shorter race it would be a little bit more disappointing, but we’ve got 1,000 miles to go and in the end it doesn’t really make much difference,” Sass said after drawing bib No. 15.
The start differential will be subtracted from each of the musher’s initial four-hour mandatory layover, which they can take at either the Mile 101 or Central checkpoint.
“It just means I have to wait longer at the start chute and my dogs will get some passing practice,” Sass added.
Jason Campeau, the twelfth musher to take the stage, drew No. 3.
“To be honest it’s been really hectic getting here,” Campeau said, referring to a fire that burned down his house in Rocky Mountain, Alberta, last year and his recovering from a concussion that he sustained when he last ran the Quest in 2017.
“I’ll be more excited once I’m out there and in the zone with my dogs, but until then there’s still a lot of moving parts right until the start line.”
The race starts at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Fairbanks. Teams will start in three minute intervals.
The first of the 19 mushers entering the YQ300 — a 300-mile race that follows the Quest’s trail from Fairbanks to Circle — will start at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The start order for the YQ300 will be determined at today’s YQ300 musher and handler meeting.
Yukon Quest start order
1. Richie Beattie
2. Cody Strathe
3. Jason Campeau
4. Allen Moore
5. Denis Tremblay
6. Nora Sjalin
7. Olivia Webster (Shank-Neff)
8. Ryne Olson
9. Torsten Kohnert
10. Dave Dalton
11. Michelle Phillips
12. Rob Cooke
13. Pat Noddin
14. Chase Tingle
15. Brent Sass
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.