Yukon Quest moved a week earlier to entice Iditaroders

The Yukon Quest will now start a week earlier in February, easing the transition for mushers looking to run both the Quest and the Iditarod.

The Yukon Quest will now start a week earlier in February, easing the transition for mushers looking to run both the Quest and the Iditarod.

“There is no way that anyone can recover from the Quest in a week and then run another 1,000-mile race,” said Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt.

“We do it, but we’re already tired when the next race starts,” he said.

After arriving fourth in Dawson City during this year’s Yukon Quest, Gatt scratched to save his team for the Iditarod, in which he placed tenth.

The morning after the Yukon Quest banquet, winner Sebastian Schnuelle was already on his way to Anchorage.

Mere days after he had crossed the Yukon Quest finish line, he was already at the Iditarod vet check.

“There’s absolutely no room for error; if your truck broke down, you had an issue,” said Schnuelle.

With a full week between the races, “there’s a little more time to breathe,” he said.

The scheduling change will probably raise the level of competition for both races.

There’s a possibility more Iditarod mushers will join the Quest lineup, and Quest mushers will be better prepared when they start the Iditarod.

“It’s going to be tougher to place in the top, that’s for sure, but that’s racing and I think that’s a good thing,” said Gatt.

For years, a coalition of Iditarod-Quest mushers have been calling for the change.

“The Yukon Quest board was pretty famous in the past for not listening to mushers, but that’s changed a little bit in the last couple of years,” said Gatt.

“I love that they actually listened to us this time, it’s nice,” said Schnuelle.

Some quest officials worried that they were pulling mushers a week further into winter.

“There were concerns about it being a little bit darker and potentially colder,” said Yukon Quest executive director Wendy Morrison.

“That argument’s a bit of a joke, we’ve had Quests at 60 below, so it’s not going to be anything different a week before that,” said Gatt.

Rolling the Iditarod forward a week, on the other hand, starts to get a bit “iffy,” said Schnuelle.

In 2007, Lance Mackey became the first musher to win both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod, a feat dubbed the “Mackey miracle.”

He repeated the “miracle” in 2008.

Even with an extra week, Schnuelle doesn’t expect to see similar “miracles” becoming a common occurrence.

“It’s already hard enough to win one, never mind winning both,” said Schnuelle.

After winning the 2009 Quest, Schnuelle placed second in the Iditarod.

“I always get questions from other mushers saying, ‘I really would like to do (both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest) but I don’t know how you guys do it with only one week,’” said Schnuelle.

“Now it remains to be seen if they’re just talkers,” he said.

Contact Tristin Hopper at


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

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read