Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Yukon Quest is less than a month out, and the field stands at 30. Top racers in the mix include defending and four-time race champion and speed record holder Hans Gatt, 2009 winner Sebastian Schnuelle, and past runners up Hugh Neff and Ken Anderson. The latest roster changes include the addition of rookie Jodi Bailey of Chatanika. Bailey will join her husband Dan Kaduce, a Quest veteran, on the trail. The Quest has also seen three mushers drop from the entry list. Terry Williams, Peg Harpham and Kurt Reich have withdrawn.
Meanwhile, work is well underway on the race route. Alaska side race director Marty Steury says snow is a little low in the Fairbanks area, but overall the trail is shaping up.
The Canadian military is back, preparing the Quest trail on the other side of the border. The Rangers have long been involved in grooming the race route, but did not work the trail last year. This year the Rangers are partnering with the quest gain, and Canadian side race director Geogina Leslie says their experience is valuable.
The Canadian Rangers use a three-phase process to put in the Quest trail, starting early with brush clearing, and packing with snow machines. The second phase, closer to race time, re-establishes the trail, while the third step called “proofing”, done just before the race starts, provides a final touch up. The 2011 Yukon Quest begins in Whitehorse Feb. 5.
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