The field is set for the 25th running of the Yukon Quest. Race spokeswoman Amanda Leslie says 27 mushers will be departing Fairbanks next month on the race’s silver anniversary run.Leslie says 2 mushers have withdrawn from the Quest. Rookies Jeremy Matrishon of Whitehorse and Trent Herbst of Idaho pulled out citing not enough training and time constraints as the reasons. Leslie says the only other change is that Quest veteran Peter Ledwidge of Dawson is turning over his team to his wife Ann, citing back problems. It will be her rookie run.
The field consists of 9 mushers who live in Canada, and 18 from the U.S., including 3 who hail from the lower 48. A total of 11 rookies and 16 veterans are signed up. The veterans include 4 past winners, Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers, who won the first Yukon Quest back in 1984, 1995 winner Frank Turner of Whitehorse, 1987 champ Bill Cotter of Nenana, and 3-time defending Quest champion and reigning Iditarod champ, Lance Mackey of Fairbanks.
Things are shaping up on the organizational side of the race. Doug Grilliot, a Quest veteran and race judge, has been appointed race marshal. Grilliot replaces Joe May, of Talkeetna, who recently resigned from the position. Leslie says the Quest trail is looking good. Fairbanks has seen 2 snowstorms in the last week, and Leslie says snow conditions have also improved on the Canadian side.
Trail groomers are out packing down the thousand mile route. The race starts February 9 in Fairbanks and runs about 1,000 miles to Whitehorse.
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks