Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Go Dogs Go!

Alaska dog sled races

A dog sled team arrives in Dawson for the 2010 Yukon Quest. Photo: Yukon Quest

It’s that time of year when snow is piled high and the dogs come out to play in Alaska. In the run up to our favorite race, the Yukon Quest , we bring you a summary of some of the upcoming Alaska races.

Don Bowers Memorial 200 and Willow-Tug 300

The DBM runs 200 miles through the Mat-Su Valley beginning January 28, 2011.The race begins and ends in Willow with a jaunt northwestward and looping back along the Susitna River. This race is a qualifier for the Yukon Quest.

The Willow-Tug is an Iditarod qualifying race also beginning and ending in Willow. On February 4, 2011, 30 teams will compete.

Norman Vaughn ’25 Serum Run

The Serum 25 is a long-distance race that commemorates the efforts of those who brought diphtheria serum to Nome in 1925. The race along the Iditarod Trail between Nenana and Nome has an interesting educational component in which mushers speak to school children at native village schools along the route. This race takes place every other February. Fifteen teams will race in 2011.

GCI Open North American Championship

The ONAC is a dog sled sprint race including teams from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. During three days in March, teams race 20 miles on the first and second race days and thirty miles the final day. The ONAC began in 1946 and has run continuously since. The 66th race will be held March 18-20, 2011.

Open World Championship Fur Rendezvous Race

The OWC race will be held February 25-27, 2011 in tandem with the Fur Rendezvous Festival. This year’s purse is a whopping $80,000! The race begins at 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage and makes a loop along the Anchorage Greenbelt, through Tozier Track, and back into downtown via the Tudor Road Bridge.

Yukon Quest

The Quest may be more grueling than its more famous sister race, the Iditarod. Quest teams run more than 1000 miles between Whitehorse, Yukon, and Fairbanks each February when weather conditions are most unpredictable. The race runs regardless of the weather, following the Gold Rush and Mail Delivery dog sled routes of the northern frontier. Dog teams consist of one musher and 14 dogs. The race takes 10-17 days and will begin on February 5 in Whitehorse, Alaska.

Iditarod

With good reason, the Iditarod is called The Last Great Race on Earth. Following the old mail and supply route between the coast and interior mining camps, participants race more than 1150 miles over rugged terrain between Anchorage and Nome. Teams of 12-16 dogs and their musher cover the distance in 10-17 days. The Iditarod draws teams and press from around the world in the largest and most famous of the dog sled races. Teams compete for the fat purse and some serious bragging rights. The race begins March 5, 2011.–Marcy Davis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *