Yukon Quest dog sled race changes mandatory rest times

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race has cut the 36-hour mandatory rest in Dawson City to 24 hours, made the other, shorter, rest periods longer, and added an additional six-hour layover.

Changes come after 2014 musher fell asleep and tumbled off sled

Matt Hall was the third musher to cross the finish line in the 2014 Yukon Quest sled dog race. Race organizers are making changes to the mandatory rest times for the 2015 race. (Mark Gillett/Yukon Quest)

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race is making changes to its mandatory rest times for the 2015 race.

What used to be a 36-hour mandatory rest in Dawson City has been cut to 24 hours, and the other, shorter, rest periods have been made longer.

Executive director Marti Steury says overall, the mushers will have two hours less rest time.   

"We've taken 12 hours out of Dawson and then re-distributed it, and all of the other mandatory four-hour layovers become six, and then we've added an additional floating six-hour mandatory.

The rest periods for 2015 are:

  • 6-hour mandatory at either Braeburn or Carmacks (driver’s choice)
  • 24-hour mandatory at Dawson City
  • 6-hour mandatory at Eagle
  • 6-hour mandatory at either Circle City, Central or Mile 101 (driver’s choice)
  • 8-hour mandatory at Two Rivers
Alaskan musher Brent Sass had to withdraw from the 2014 Yukon Quest after he fell asleep and tumbled from his sled, suffering a concussion. (CBC)

Steury says the changes are supported by mushers and veterinarians. She says the new schedule aims to give mushers more rest time.

Some mushers like former Quest champ Sebastian Schnuelle approve.

"I initially like it," he said.

Last year musher Brent Sass was racing for first place when he fell asleep on the trail, fell off his sled and suffered a concussion, resulting in his withdrawal from the race.

Schnuelle says this new run/rest plan might prevent situations like that.

"I would say that is a very direct result of not resting enough," he said. "Maybe his dogs could do it, but obviously it brought him to his own limit — the body can only take so much. So I think it does make it safer."

The 2015 Yukon Quest will start Feb. 7 in Whitehorse.