Over beer and hamburgers at the Two Rivers Lodge near Fairbanks, Alaska, a small group of mushers conceived a gutsy idea for a new sled dog race that would be more challenging than any other marathon race in the Far North. In 1984, mushers organized the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Soon, mushers adopted an unofficial race motto, "Survive first, race second."
The Quest trail boasts fewer checkpoints, longer wilderness runs, and more campouts. The trail crosses three mountain passes, including the dreaded 3,685-foot Eagle Summit, a killer of mushers' dreams. Outdoor survival skills and self-reliance are on a par with commercial sponsorships and high-tech sleds and mushing gear.