Mark Gillett

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Toughest Race Yukon Quest?

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This is now my fourth year in the Yukon since 2009… I first came for the Yukon Arctic Ultra which starts a day behind the Quest and runs the same trail.. Its a very tough event and competitors really put themselves through a lot of pain. A real endurance event. I have run in marathons everywhere and also the Marathon des Sables in 2006… Of everything I have done, the Marathon of 26 miles is still by far the toughest. The MDS which is 250km in the Sahara was different.. Certainly tough but also a great laugh and I had a great time… So the nearest description I can find for that is a “running holiday” However, a marathon of 26 miles is certainly not that and its far more painful with an indescribable intensity in the training and the race…

So that leaves me with the Yukon Quest which I have NOT raced in and have absolutely no intention of doing so. For me it is a completely different level of endurance. A different type of race. The nearest way of describing this race would be to imagine taking 12 children on a 1000 mile hike in temperatures of -25 degrees… You simply would not do it.. In photography they say you should never work children or animals simply because its so difficult. I don’t necessarily agree with this and do love working with kids, however they are still very tough to work with. I never do animals.

Resting at Braeburn

Resting at Braeburn


Rob Cooke tending his team at Braeburn

Now, I don’t want to upset the mushers.. I am not comparing their huskies with kids but what I am saying is that their task of completing a thousand miles with a sled having to look after him or herself as as well as 12-14 dogs is simply the hardest and toughest race I can imagine… Tending the dogs, caring for them… Long arduous days and nights without sleep, bitter cold, and making sure they all make the next check point. It really hits home when I am sitting in my car covering so much ground at 100kph imagining them not that far away running the trail a lot slower and in the cold! There is no question in my opinion that this is the toughest race.

So that now leaves the two 1000 mile races to choose between… Iditarod or Yukon Quest? I have not covered the Iditarod but can only imagine that more people enter it because its easier… Not so scary.. So in my opinion I am covering the toughest race on earth.

Yukon Quest 2013

Lance Mackey

I am now in Pelly Crossing waiting for Allen Moore and Hugh Neff, with Jake Berkowitz and Brent Sass not fa
… I am wondering if it will be a replay of last year or if the toughest musher of all time, Lance Mackeyr behind

will edge forward to claim his 5th Yukon Quest title… We will know in maybe 10 more days but for now we have to just keep speculating… Reading into their tactics.. Reading Emily Schwings reports.. Guessing and enjoying the whole ride with them. What is for sure, all these guys do it with such grace and integrity and a huge passion for their dogs and the North and its a pleasure to be hereĀ again to cover it..

Written by markgillett

February 4, 2013 at 6:17 am

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