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Good Questions are now closed for this year. Check back again when the Quest is closer to the start.

Do you have a good question for us. Use this form to send it to us and we'll see what we can do. Here are some ideas you can request.

  • Just a plain question to us about the race.
  • Ask us to take a photo to show you something you don't understand.
  • Request your question be asked of a specific person - race official, vet, handler, checkpoint volunteer - even a specific musher (but please remember they are really busy during the race and it may take us some time).
  • Ask for a video to show you something you may not understand.

When you are finished your question, use the "Save" button at the bottom of the page to send your question to us. We are moderating this page to prevent inappropriate questions and spam. That means your question will be put into a queue until we approve it. You won't see your questions posted to this page right away.

Your Good Questions

Can handicap people be in the Yukon quest?

Yes handicapped people can run the race. In fact, William Kleedehn ran the race many times - and did very well. Matias Saari wrote about William in the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer on January 4, 2010:

"He started working right after recovering from a motorcycle accident (caused by a hit-and-run drunk driver) at age 18 that required him to get a prosthetic lower leg.

Kleedehn named his mushing outfit Limp-a-Long Kennel and never considered the reduced mobility a handicap. It did, however, compromise his ability to help the team up big climbs like Eagle Summit, and it made driving the sled in extreme terrain more difficult. He was forced to scratch from the 2004 Quest because he broke a femur after crashing on glare ice.

Three-time Quest champion Hans Gatt called Kleedehn an incredibly tough character and a great storyteller with a dry sense of humor."

How old does the musher have to be?

Mushers must be a minimum of eighteen (18) years of age by the start of the race. There is no maximum age.

How are emergencies handled?

Emergencies...every sled has a spot tracker on it..there is an emergency button that can be pushed. It is transmitted to a satellite and then to the Race Marshal who makes a call. If the musher is in serious trouble, help is sent and they would be disqualified or pulled from the Race. In 2006, a major storm blew in as the teams were going over Eagle Summit. Seven teams were stranded on the mountain and couldn't move because they couldn't see where they were going. When the storm cleared enough, the Quest sent in a military helicopter and lifted the teams and dogs off the mountain.
 
If the dogs are not really keen on going, mushers may camp out with them and wait for a bit..if they have not moved after many hours, a snow machine and crew will be sent to see if help is needed or to talk to the musher to see what they want to do. Ultimately it is safety and the well being of the dogs comes first.

How did Katherine Keith let the judges know that she wanted to scratch? How do mushers in general do this? 

Any musher who has to scratch will tell a race official of their decision. They usually don't do this quickly or without a lot of thought. We've heard stories of mushers sitting in a checkpoint for several hours thinking about their options. It's a difficult decision to scratch and mushers - tough enough to summit Eagle Summit can be seen shedding tears making that kind of decision. And according to Yukon Quest rules, it's a decision mushers must make on their own. No one can help or advise.

Once the musher decides to scratch, there is official paperwork that must be completed and signed off. Once complete, and everyone is satisfied, the dogs will be loaded into the dog truck and the long journey by truck begins. 

If a musher is not in a checkpoint and decides to scratch, they will activate the SPOT tracker asking for help. That automatically removes them from the race and the Quest will send help by snow machine immediately.

How did she break her wrist?

Although we were not there and didn't see it, it is being reported on Facebook by people who are close to Katherine that she had a fall on the road just outside Central. We were just in Central - a really nice checkpoint - and the teams travel down the highway for a short bit going into the checkpoint. It's easy to see how a musher could slip and land on the hard roadway the wrong way and break a bone. This is one of those "freak" accidents that would be very difficult to prevent.

Students are wondering the difference between withdrawing from the race and scratching.  They saw the use of each word in the news feed.

What does “scratching for the health and well-being of the team” really mean?  Could you give us a description of various scenarios?

According to the race rules, section 48. Scratch / Withdraw / Disqualification:

All decisions by the Race Marshal and / or Race Judges shall be final.

All Scratched, Withdrawn, and Disqualified teams must have a complete vet check prior to being released from the race. Failure to do so may result in a $500 fine.

  1. a)  Scratch - Mushers wishing to end their participation in the race may do so by filling out and signing a Scratch Form and submitting it to a Race Official or checker. Mushers are responsible for making their own arrangements for retrieving personal gear. Items remaining become the property of YQI.

  2. b)  Withdraw - A team may be involuntarily withdrawn from the race by the Race Marshal. This decision would be made to protect the dogs, the musher, or the event itself, and does not imply deliberate misconduct or rule violation. Food drop bags will be immediately removed from checkpoints and a reasonable attempt will be made to return personal gear to the closest YQI office for retrieval.

  3. c)  Disqualification - Failure of a musher to comply with the published Rules of General Race Procedure and/or Trail Procedure may result in disqualification, monetary fine, or a time penalty, or a combination of these measures. Disqualified mushers will forfeit all placements and monetary values. Food drop bags will be immediately removed from checkpoints and a reasonable attempt will be made to return personal gear to the closest YQI office for retrieval.

Scratching for the health and well being of the team usually indicates they are sick or have had injuries to several dogs so going on is next to impossible and certainly not good for the dogs. When we talk injuries to dogs we mean wrists sprains, sore shoulders, muscles..certainly not hurt by mushers etc. We have to be really clear, these dogs are far from abused and there is often more $$ poured in per dog than most household pets. To scratch means the Musher has determined he cannot go on. It is a difficult decision to make and they do not make that one easily. Prime example is a team gets sick, vomiting and running is a way for dogs to aspirate vomit and end up with pneumonia which in itself can be fatal.

To be withdrawn - it could be a situation like a musher hurting themselves and not able to care for the team. Brent Sass fell off of his sled in 2016, he hit his head..there was no way he could take care of himself or the team.

To be disqualified you have really broken some rules and it is not a scenario that happens often.

Why do mushers need to carry snowshoes with them?

They carry snowshoes in case they have to break trail. Imagine a snow storm and the trail gets obscured, the musher would go ahead of the team and break trail. Having snowshoes means they stay on top of the snow and don't go down deep. It's hard enough to create a rail without having to be up to your knees or worse, imagine the slog it would be without them.

How many times do mushers stop to feed their dogs in the race?

We asked a couple of mushers this question directly. Here's what they told us.

A former Quest musher:
Some may stop every 2, some every 4. The colder it is the more frequent feedings
 
From Laura Neese:
The dogs are fed a warm meal every time they stop for a rest. So for my team, 16 times plus 4 extra feedings in Dawson during their 36 hour layover. In addition to the warm meals during rests, the dogs also get snacks during runs. The snacks may be frozen meat, frozen fat, or an already prepared watery meat and kibble snack. The longer the run, the more snacks they get. 

How hard is it for mushers to keep track of where they are? How do they do this?

We asked a couple of Quest mushers this question. Here's what they told us.

A former Quest musher:
The trail is well marked. If you are a veteran, you get to recognize landmarks, cabins etc. Some use a GPS to keep track of how many miles they have gone and where the next checkpoint or cabin is.
 
From Laura Neese
The easiest way to keep track of where you are is to keep track of how long you have been running. Each Musher knows their team well enough to be able to tell what speed they are traveling at just by watching the dogs run. So we can tell approximately how many miles we have traveled by keeping track of the time. 
 
 

Has a musher ever accidentally pushed their button for help?

We don't think that's ever happened. This year, officials thought Severin Cathry had requested help. But after some investigation, it was determined to be a faulty tracker. You can read more about that at http://www.yukonquest.com/news/severin-cathry-withdrawl-retraction