Mushers will have to truck dogs over one leg of the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest sled dog race this year because of poor trail conditions, race officials said Monday.
The decision follows reports of an especially thin snowpack around the Yukon checkpoint of Carmacks, said Doug Harris, the race marshal.
From the Braeburn checkpoint, mushers will load dogs in trucks and drive the Klondike Highway to Carmacks, he said. After reaching Carmacks, mushers will have 12 hours to restart.
Several days ago, race organizers cut out 100 miles from the Yukon Quest 300 because of the poor trail conditions near Carmacks.
The 1,000-mile race begins in Whitehorse on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 2 and ends if Fairbanks. The shorter race begins in the afternoon.
The last time the Yukon Quest involved trucking was in the early 2000s, Harris said. He said race officials were concerned about safety.
“If you put the options of crashing and burning and breaking sleds and hurting dogs, or putting dogs in a dog truck...I think it’s not much option on that,” Harris said.
In another change, mushers will be able to start the 1,000 mile race with as few as eight dogs. At the Carmacks restart, mushers can add remaining dogs to their team to reach a full 14-dog team. Harris said officials wanted to give mushers more control with a smaller team through bad sections of trail.
Harris said officials are continuing to review trail conditions, particularly the stretch between Carmacks and Pelly Crossing.