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A NEW POSSIBILITY – The Yukon Quest 1,000 International Dog Sled Race is considering joining QRILL Pet Arctic World Series (QPAWS) and will make its decision after the 2020 race. The Iditarod has recently signed up the global series.

Quest to mull decision about joining QPAWS

The Iditarod, the 938-mile (1,509-kilometre) sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, has joined the QRILL Pet Arctic World Series (QPAWS).

By John Tonin on October 31, 2019

The Iditarod, the 938-mile (1,509-kilometre) sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, has joined the QRILL Pet Arctic World Series (QPAWS).

A little to the east, the Yukon Quest is considering joining the series but is taking a wait-and-see approach. The Quest will see how the Iditarod fares in the first year under QPAWS before making its decision.

"We are interested in being involved," said Shayna Hammer, the executive director in the Yukon office. "It can be great exposure and create more world-wide engagement."

According to the QPAWS website, the organization's goal is to: "highlight the sport of long-distance dog mushing. The aim is to help the sport and the mushing community to grow and to strengthen the separate race organizations, as well as showcase the world-class dog care that the sport is famous for."

There are currently four races, including the Iditarod, involved with QPAWS. There is Femundløpet, in Norway, Beargrease, U.S.A, and the Volga Quest, Russia.

The Iditarod is the longest race of the series and will act as the finale.

Hammer said the Quest did not sign up this year because it wasn't feasible given the timeframe.

"We are already working on this year's race," said Hammer. "It would have been hard to set up for 2020."

QPAWS races will work on a point system. All mushers and their dog teams entering in each race are automatically taking part in the 2020 QPAWs competition by entering and finishing any of the four above mentioned races.

Seeing how the point system works is of importance to the Yukon Quest.

"We want to see how the point system works and factors into the current race," said Hammer. "We want to see what a full program looks like from start to finish and see what is feasible."

Mushers can do as many or little as the QPAWS races as they wish.

If the Quest were to join QPAWS it would be more widely broadcast and this is another area the YQ wants to look at.

"There are the logistics of broadcasting and working with the existing systems we already have in place," said Hammer. "It should be really cool, and we are excited to see what it looks like."

Although there are still some questions to be answered, Hammer said the Quest is seriously considering joining QPAWS.

"It can be beneficial to our mushers as it may increase their earnings," said Hammer. "As well, it will raise the profile of sled-dog racing and do it in a healthy way so the world understands the truth of our sport."

Hammer said the Quest is also excited about the prospects of bringing together the world-wide mushing community.

"There is races in Scandinavia, and from the other side of the world," said Hammer. "It ties together the circumpolar North and shows how interconnected the north is. That excites us."

If the Yukon Quest does make the move to QPAWS, Hammer said the rules of the YQ will remain unchanged.

"We have our own specific requirements to run our race," said Hammer. "We'd have to keep those."

QPAWS is expecting more races to join for the 2021 race season.

Since the 36th running of the Yukon Quest will be run in an even year, it will begin Feb. 1, 2020, in Fairbanks and end in Whitehorse.

Currently, the 2020 race has 13 mushers registered. It will feature 2019 champion Brent Sass and fourth-place finisher Michelle Phillips, as well as seven other YQ veterans. The race has four rookies so far.

Comments (2)

Up 0 Down 0

eye roll on Nov 5, 2019 at 4:51 pm

FYI Melinda Shore is from Alaska. This move would not make the Quest 'a feeder race for the Iditarod'. It's too bad that Melinda see's the Yukon Quest as a 'second tier race' just don't take her too seriously.

Up 2 Down 1

Melinda Shore on Nov 2, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Yes, by all means let's turn the Quest into a feeder race for Iditarod. I guess if the Quest wants to lose their unique identity and cement their status as a second-tier race and get caught up in a marketing scheme for some dog food company (Fulda worked out *great*!), that's their call, but it doesn't seem particularly prudent.

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