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Team returns to tell story of 2013 Yukon Quest

Helen Hegener
Dan and Jodi harness the team while Marlys watches from the sled
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
They're ready to go!
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
And finally they're off!
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
Away up the trail into the hills above Chatanika
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
The huskies left behind set up a mournful wail as their teammates disappear up the trail
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
A couple of days after visiting Dew Claw Kennel (more photos from there later) I hit the Steese Highway for Central and Circle
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
With all the Yukon Quest mushers through the checkpoint crew was just doing cleanup and getting ready to shut down the place
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
Misha Peterson on the trail to Circle
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
2012 Yukon Quest champion Hugh Neff.
Photo by Mark Gillett/Junglemoon Images
A fan of 2012 Yukon Quest musher Jake Berkowitz.
Photo by Mark Gillett/Junglemoon Images
Lance Mackey.
Photo by Mark Gillett/Junglemoon Images
2012 Yukon Quest musher Paige Drobney.
photo by Mark Gillett/Junglemoon Images
A visit to Dew Claw Kennels, home of Jodi Bailey and Dan Kaduce, with Yukon Quest and Iditarod fan Marlys Sauer, from New Braunfels, Texas. Marlys, known to friends by her nickname 'Bug,' plays with her namesake, Dew Claw Kennels' "Bedbug"
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media
Learning a bit about the different sleds
Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race spans some of the harshest winter territory on the planet: 1,000 miles between Fairbanks, Alaska and the city of Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Known as ‘The World’s Toughest Sled Dog Race,’ it’s an event like no other. Run every February, the race is phenomenally challenging, crossing four mountain ranges, including the dangerous and intimidating 3,685-foot Eagle Summit, as it loosely follows the course of the mighty Yukon River.

First run in 1984, the Yukon Quest follows historic mail delivery and transportation trails, the same routes followed by the stampeders in the 1890′s Klondike Gold Rush. Racers endure ice, snow, and extreme cold; because of the harsh conditions, the Yukon Quest has been called the most difficult sled dog race in the world.

The 2012 Yukon Quest saw a dynamic new independent media team tracking the race, and what they produced in photography and videos had fans buzzing and following their inspiring and engaging contributions. Producer Mark Gillette, editor Tom Barber, and photographers Ariel Body and Scott Chesney presented race fans with dozens of photographs which portrayed the essence of the hardworking mushers and dogs, and videos which captured the spirit and the excitement of being on the trail. This video of the 2012 start, featuring perennial favorite musher Brent Sass, is a good example:

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For 2013, which is the Yukon Quest’s 30th Anniversary, Mark Gillette and Scott Chesney are once again planning coverage of the race, with more high quality video features, interviews and daily uploads of images to the social media sites of the organization, this time including the production of a 100-page coffee table souvenir book and DVD/blu-ray discs with the complete set of videos.

They’re seeking funding through the crowdsourcing site KickStarter, and offering some excellent incentives for pledges, including books, video sets, professional photography workshops, one-on-one time with some of the top Yukon Quest mushers, and a kennel tour with Allen Moore, who placed second by less than a minute in the 2012 race, and Aliy Zirkle, the only woman to win the Yukon Quest, in 2000.

Helen Hegener is an author and a documentary filmmaker specializing in distance sled dog races and the men, women and dogs who run them. This post originally appeared on her website, Northern Light Media. It has been republished with permission.