Brent Sass poses with his lead dogs after crossing the finish line in Whitehorse on Feb. 11 to win his third Yukon Quest. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Brent Sass poses with his lead dogs after crossing the finish line in Whitehorse on Feb. 11 to win his third Yukon Quest. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Organizers cancel 1,000-mile Yukon Quest sled dog race for 2021

Sept. 3 announcement highlights COVID-19 impacts as rationale

Organizers of the Yukon Quest – Canada’s epig sled dog race – have announced the 2021 event has been cancelled.

The Yukon Quest International Association (Canada) announced the cancellation in a news release on Thursday (Sept. 3), just under a week after the Alaskan board announced plans for a 300-mile (480-kilometre) race.

In June, the Yukon Quest announced it would hold separate races in Alaska and the Yukon this year due to COVID-19.

Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was the underlying cause of the Canadian cancellation, organizers say.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” Bev Regier, president of the Canadian board, said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to look at all aspects of the organization and an even greater responsibility to keep our community’s health a priority.”

The release notes that the border restrictions, which led to the decision to hold separate races in the two countries this year, were already impacting plans for the Feb. 6 start in Whitehorse.

Those travel restrictions, coupled with “economic challenges to local sponsors” and the possibility of bringing COVID-19 into Yukon communities were enumerated as the rationale for the decision.

Regier told the Yukon News that the board had been considering a race from Dawson City to Whitehorse, but that it proved unfeasible.

Some First Nations along the route wanted mushers limited to those within the Yukon’s COVID-19 bubble with British Columbia and the other territories. She said the Quest understands and respects that stance, but acknowledged it made planning to hold a race very difficult.

With many of the local sponsors unable to contribute as they typically would due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 and usual fundraising efforts — like raffles and banquets — also unable to happen, Regier said financially holding a race would be very difficult.

Last year’s race began with just 15 mushers reaching the start chute, and only five Canadians. Two more mushers had been scheduled to race but were unable to because of missing qualifying requirements. In 2019, there were 30 total mushers and eight Canadians.

The 2020 field was the smallest in the race’s history.

Given current travel restrictions and the Yukon’s COVID-19 bubble, five of the 2020 mushers and six of the 2019 mushers would be eligible to race in the Yukon without any need to self-isolate for two weeks in advance.

While 2021 will not include a Yukon race, the Alaskan board will hold what is being called a “Summit Quest” based on the typical Yukon Quest 300 course, tackling both Rosebud and Eagle summits.

The Aug. 28 announcement from the Alaskan board made it clear the intention is to hold a 1,000-mile race in 2022, something Regier confirmed.

“It also needs to be said, that there is no doubt, neither on the Canadian nor the Alaskan side, that a 1,000-mile Yukon Quest Race will start in 2022,” the statement said.

Musher signup day for the Summit Quest is Oct. 3.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

Yukon Quest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

The City of Cranbrook is gearing up winter plowing operations. Townsman file photo.
City gearing up winter snow plow operations

Winter has arrived in Cranbrook. Following recent snowfalls in the region, the… Continue reading

Pictured is the Cranbrook gravel pit, located between two graveyards near the public works yard. This is where two lost kids were located by a Salvador Ready Mix driver on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Two lost kids find their way home thanks to Salvador Ready Mix driver

The driver found the children wandering near the gravel pits in Cranbrook

Interior Health is reporting a potential COVID-19 exposure at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School last week from Nov. 17-19.
Potential COVID-19 exposure reported at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School

Interior Health is reporting potential COVID-19 exposures at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent… Continue reading

Planting whitebark pine seedlings. Photo courtesy of Randy Moody.
Kimberley’s Randy Moody on the challenges and triumphs of the endangered whitebark pine

Randy Moody, president of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEFC)… Continue reading

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Most Read