The field for the 2002 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race has grown again as the entries of defending champion Tim Osmar of Kasilof, 1988 champ Dave Monson of Manley and veteran musher Doug Grilliott of Willow arrived in the mail at race headquarters early this week.
The entry deadline passed over the weekend, but entries postmarked by Dec. 15 are accepted for the 1,000-mile-plus race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. There are now 45 mushers entered in the race, which starts on Feb. 9. The highest number of entries for a past Yukon Quest was in 1988 when 48 mushers competed in the race. There were 40 mushers in both 1989 and 1990. Quest officials said today they know of at least one other musher who mailed his entry form by Saturday's deadline, so the field could grow to 46.
Osmar won last year's race, which went from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, in a time of 11 days, 15 hours, 10 minutes. Grilliott finished in 16th place in 14:08:16. Monson, the husband of four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Susan Butcher, won the race in 1988 but hasn't run it since. Monson did win last year's Quest 250, a race from Whitehorse to Pelly Crossing, Yukon Territory.
Osmar, the son of 1984 Iditarod champion Dean Osmar, and Monson are two of four former winners in this year's Yukon Quest. They join 1997 champion Rick Mackey of Nenana and 1995 winner Frank Turner of Whitehorse, the only musher to have entered every Yukon Quest since the race started in 1984. Mackey is also the 1983 Iditarod champion.
The mushers are competing for a purse of $125,000, with a winner's paycheck of $30,000.
Musher Deborah Bicknell, Juneau's only entrant, is currently training her team in Tagish, Yukon Territory. Bicknell, 56, won the Red Lantern Award given to the race's last finisher in the 2000 Yukon Quest. She finished her rookie run in 21st place with a time of 15:04:54.
Other veteran mushers entered in this year's race are Larry Carroll of Willow; Jack Berry of Salcha; Tony Blanford of Fairbanks; Joran Freeman of Fairbanks; William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon Territory; Suzan Amundsen of Fairbanks; Jim Hendrick of Denali Park; Bill Steyer of Fairbanks; David Dalton of Fairbanks; Peter Ledwidge of Dawson City, Yukon Territory; Terry Asbury of Healy; Connie Frerichs of Delta Junction; Peter Butteri of Tok; Bill Pinkham of Glenwood, Colo.; Carrie Farr of Nenana; Bruno Baureis of Gakona; Thomas Tetz of Carcross; Hans Gatt of Atlin, British Columbia; Keli Mahoney of Talkeetna; Silvia Furtwangler of Germany; Hugh Neff of Coldfoot; David Sawatzky of Healy; and George Carroll of Two Rivers.
The rest of the field is composed of Quest rookies - Diane Allen of Whitehorse; Kelley Griffin of Wasilla; Wayne Hall of Eagle; Jesse Beebe of Delta Junction; Darrin lee of Nenana; Tom Benson of Ely, Minn.; Marcelle Fressineau of Grandeanse, Quebec; Diana Moroney of Chugiak; Braden Bennett of Whitehorse; Dan Kaduce of Fairbanks; Andreas Keller of Aargan, Switzerland; Shannon Brockman of Nenana; Jamie Nelson of Togo, Minn.; Chad Nordlum of Kotzebue; Christopher Knott of Fairbanks; and Adam Grant of Willow.