Photo by Photo Submitted
Photo by Photo Submitted
After a total of 16 years over two separate periods, Marti Steury, the Yukon Quest executive director in Alaska, has made the decision to step down from her role with the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race.
Steury said she made the decision after her husband got sick.
“My husband was in the ICU and I personally didn’t think it was smart anymore to continue in my role,” said Steury.
“He’s recovering but it took him about four-and-a-half to months recover – he was so depleted.
“Right now I need to take care of my family and that became rudely apparent after the (2020) Quest.”
Steury was involved with the Quest from the beginning. She signed on as executive director in 1983 – the first race was held a year later. She was in charge of four races before travelling the trail as a reporter in 1988.
In August 2009, she resumed her position with the organization as executive director.
Steury said just because she is stepping down from her role, it doesn’t mean she won’t be involved in the race in some capacity.
“I’m looking forward to being on the trail,” said Steury. “This is a huge family and I’m not leaving the family.
“I’m looking for something more reasonable and to try it from that perspective. I’m excited about the future.”
Given her husband’s health issues, Steury said she wouldn’t have been able to give her full energy to the race anymore.
“The race is so spectacular and I’ve given a lot of my life to it,” said Steury. “I don’t want to short the race of any energy. It’s such a privilege to be apart of something that affects so many people’s lives.
“I know there are people out there who have the energy to put toward the Quest, who have fresh, new ideas.”
President of the Alaska board of directors wished Steury the best for her future plans.
“Marti has done so much for this organization throughout her years in the Executive Director position,” said Dixon. “We have valued her historical knowledge of the race, the relationships she has with the community, and her positive attitude in the office. She will absolutely be missed and we wish her well in all her future plans.”
Having dedicated 16 years of her life to the Yukon Quest, Steury shared a few of her favourite stories from the trail.
They both come from the first race, start and finish.
“My army buddy Dave Klumb, who got me involved with the board, was doing the first race with three of my dogs,” said Steury. “I asked him if he would take something of mine.”
Steury gave Klumb a St. Christopher’s medal to carry on the trail, but realized it hadn’t been blessed yet.
“I asked Kevin Turnbough (the ninth-place finisher in 1984) to bless the medal because he was a youth pastor in Minnesota. In the middle of the noise and the chaos, he put his hands over mine and we bowed our heads.
“Everything got quiet and we asked that everyone stays safe and to help each other out and when we were done and lifted hands the noise came right back.”
Her second memory from the inaugural race came at the finish line.
“We were in Whitehorse and there wasn’t a lot of snow because it warmed up,” said Steury. “We had just finished putting up the arch, the paint was still drying and there comes Sonny Lindner across the finish line.”
As well, she said over the years she has been amazed by the sense of community that the Yukon Quest brings out in people.
“It is a race that dissolves international boundaries,” said Steury. “The north is the north, whether in Alaska or the Yukon. We still recognize the challenges and look out for each other as family.
“This race belongs to those who live along the trail. We are just the stewards. It takes 1,000 people to go 1,000 miles.”
Steury was quick to point out that she isn’t retiring, and that she is looking forward to seeing what other career opportunities there are for her.
This announcement comes before the Annual General Meeting in Alaska.
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