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Yukon Quest announces low musher turnout for 2005 race
WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - Only 23 mushers signed up to compete in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race by the registration deadline this week.
The annual 1,000-mile-plus race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks has room for 50 mushers.
"My goal is to always have a full slate," said Stephen Reynolds, a Quest official.
Throughout the race's 22-year history, there have never been 50 teams. The closest the Quest ever came to that number was in 1988, when there were 47 mushers. In 2002, there were 41 who hit the start line.
Reynolds said the average number of entrants usually ranges from 25 to 35.
The entry deadline was late Wednesday afternoon, but applications that are postmarked by Dec. 15 will be accepted for the race, which begins in Whitehorse on Feb. 13.
Reynolds said the number of mushers will grow as long as the Quest can keep a good reputation by maintaining the trail and increasing community support.
Reynolds also wants to raise the profiles of local mushers so they can serve as role models to younger people wanting to get into the sport.
"It is recognized that dog sleds are not as common as they were 100 years ago," he told the Whitehorse Star. "But if people realize the training and athleticism that is involved in the sport, the future is there for us."
There are nine Alaskans in the race to date.
They are Bruno Baureis of Gakona, Tony Blanford of Two Rivers, David Dalton of Healy, Kelley Griffin of Wasilla, Dan Kaduce of Chatanika, Jon Little of Kasilof, Lance Mackey of Kasilof, Hugh Neff of Nenana and two-time former champion John Schandelmeier of Paxson.