Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Christopher Reynolds

SOLITUDE – Ed Hopkins mushes along the Yukon River towards Eagle, Alaska, during the 2015 Yukon Quest.

Five Yukoners, 27 mushers will run Yukon Quest

The 2016 Yukon Quest will see 27 mushers leave the start chute in Fairbanks, Alaska.

By Marcel Vander Wier on December 8, 2015

The 2016 Yukon Quest will see 27 mushers leave the start chute in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The 33rd edition of the 1,600-kilometre mushing odyssey is scheduled to get underway Feb. 6.

American rookie Rick Katucki was the last musher to hand in his paperwork before Friday’s entry deadline, pushing the total start list to 27.

Five Yukoners will be in the mix, including Rob Cooke, Yuka Honda, Ed Hopkins, Gaetan Pierrard and Luc Tweddell.

Defending champion Brent Sass will also take part, as will former victors Allen Moore and Hugh Neff.

More mushers are still eligible to register until Jan. 4, but the entry fee will rise to US$2,500 from $2,000.

Twenty-six mushers started last season’s race in Whitehorse.

“I am excited because it’s showing we’re maintaining last year’s threshold, if not building a little bit,” said Natalie Haltrich, executive director for the Yukon side of the race.

“More to the point, we have a full Yukon Quest 300, with nine on the wait list. That tells me there’s a strong up-and-coming interest.”

Haltrich, hired this year, said she’s found interest in long-distance mushing in the North is alive and well.

Last week, Iditarod registration swelled to 86 mushers – one of the largest fields yet.

In other news, a familiar face has returned to the Yukon Quest office in Whitehorse.

Fabian Schmitz is serving as operations manager of the race until late January, replacing Holly Smith who has resumed her university studies in Fairbanks.

For more information on the upcoming race, visit www.yukonquest.com.

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