Many Southcentral Alaska races have grown in popularity while more and more new races crop up ever year. That leaves stalwart Alaska racers with more options than ever while the bar of entry for new racers or would-be runners feels lower and less scary. 

Alli Harvey

The Yukon Quest is a 1,000-mile sled dog race starting this year in Fairbanks, Alaska and finishing in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. 

Alaska Dispatch News
Impassable ice jams between the mouth of the Fortymile River and Dawson City necessitated a re-route to the Top of the World Highway for Yukon Quest mushers, resulting in an additional 2,500-foot climb.Marcel Vander Wier | Whitehorse Star
The chief difference is the number of checkpoints — the Quest has nine while the Iditarod has nearly three times that number. John Schandelmeier
The defending champion left the Eagle checkpoint near dawn Tuesday, with the three closest chasers returning to the trail three to four hours later as the racers began a long stretch to Dawson in the Yukon Territory. Mike Campbell
Riding with a sled dog team during the traditional season of mushing is an opportunity for a slice of Alaska life unmatched during the shorter and snowless summer. Erin Kirkland
The young musher from Eureka pulled out of Circle City first, heading towards the jumble ice of the Yukon River.  Sass, Allen Moore of Two Rivers and  Hugh Neff of Tok are leading the racers toward Whitehorse. Casey Grove | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Mushers topped Eagle Summit in the second day of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon, on a trail that retraces historic mail and supply routes along the Yukon River.

Alaska Dispatch News
Hugh Neff of Tok grabbed the early lead, with defending champion Brent Sass right behind him. Allen Moore of Two Rivers, the winner in 2013 and 2014, was running third. Alaska Dispatch News
Among the field of mushers are three past champions — Brent Sass, Allen Moore and Hugh Neff.Casey Grove | Fairbanks Daily News-Miner