Yukon Quest Alaska announces race plans for 2023
Feature race will be 550 miles with 1,000 mile hopes for 2024
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It has only been a little over one month since the Yukon and Alaska boards split following a rift surrounding race guidelines for the 2023 race. The race had been previously separated due to border constrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had planned to reinstate the 1,000 mile, international dog sled race before the two boards split in May.
The Yukon Quest Alaska board has announced their plan for their portion of races in 2023 which includes three races. The feature race will be a 550 mile race running from Fairbanks following the traditional quest trail to Eagle, and then finish along the Taylor Highway through Chicken, concluding in Tok. The second race will be shorter, 300 miles, running strictly on the traditional trail.
“We wanted to do it right when we did it the first time,” said Alaska board President, Mark Weber.
The third race will be a “fun run” consisting of 80 miles running from Fairbanks to Pleasant Valley and back. Something that will be open to junior mushers, and has the hopes of inspiring the next generation of mushers.
“We used to have a junior race, and it kind of went away some years ago,” commented Weber. “We felt we could bring it back in, and it’s a nice little trail going into Pleasant Valley and back into town.”
All races will begin in Fairbanks and start on the same date, February 4, 2023. The goal was to have a 1,000 mile race this year, but the Yukon Quest Alaska board wanted to get off a good race in 2023, and will aim for a 1,000 mile Alaska-only race in 2024.
“One of the options in the 1,000 mile race was to loop from Tok down to Paxson, across the Denali Highway,” mentioned Weber. “There was some questions of trail in that area as to connecting them, staying out of the park, and gaining authorization to use them. We’re looking into that this winter. We have a trail committee that’s going to put those trails in for us this year.”
“Some of the other options are, Central, Circle, and then down the river the other direction through Stevens Village, down to Tanana into Nenana. We might even have different 1,000 mile trails... one river and one interior. We’re looking at the options,” Weber added.
The 550 mile feature race’s purse has been set at $100,000. An amount of money that the Yukon Quest Alaska board already has securely allocated. In addition to an increase in miles from 2023 to 2024, the Yukon Quest Alaska board will aim for a higher purse in the coming years.
“It’s obviously a financial decision,” Weber explained. “We want to make sure we could follow through with that. We came to the 2023 decision of $100,000 conservatively with the prospective of moving forward. We hope to get the purse up to $150,000 possibly $200,000.”
Yukon Quest Alaska is committed to upholding the tradition the race has embraced since it began in 1984 and preserving the history of the race over nearly the last forty years. For more information detailing the initial split, here is the article written about the split following the announcement in May: https://www.webcenterfairbanks.com/2022/05/04/alaska-yukon-offices-split-crossroads/
Signups for the 2023 Alaskan Quest races will open on August 6, 2022.
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