THE REAL COST OF RUNNING THE IDITAROD AND YUKON QUEST

I am told that it costs $20,000 plus to run the Iditarod, and 10-$12,000 to run the Yukon Quest. What are the real costs of the Quest and the Iditarod and where do we spend it? Here they are; in way everyone can understand. All costs were determined using the premise that the team was from the Alaska road system. Travel costs are figured from Anchorage, Alaska. Your individual costs will likely vary, but these are the basics: Yukon Quest IditarodEntry $1500 $4000Food drop fee $0 $1200-$1400The Yukon Quest includes $500 in the entry fee to cover food drop charges, straw, etc., the Iditarod does not; you are responsible for the actual costs of shipping food and supplies to the checkpoints. The charge was 0.50 per pound in ’08, 2009 charge is estimated at 0.70Rookie Meeting $0 $200-$2000 The Yukon Quest does not require Rookie meeting; the Iditarod requires two days of attendance. The cost depends on whether you live close to Anchorage or are coming from the Lower 48. Travel Costs $1500 $1500The Yukon Quest in 2009 will require approximately 3,000 miles of driving: to Whitehorse, Dawson, and along the trail. I used a cost per mile of 0.50—you are driving a dog truck after all. Iditarod costs include flying one handler to Nome, the musher and handler back. Also included was the cost of returning 12 dogs from Nome via the most inexpensive method. Pre-race vet check $150 $350 (150)These are estimated travel costs to and from the vet check. The Iditarod also requires the musher to put a deposit down at a veterinary office prior to the race in the event of a dropped dog needing special veterinary care. (The number in parentheses) Pre-Race week costs $300 $500I used a figure of $100 per day; this for lodging and food. The Yukon Quest often has host families for out of town teams. The Iditarod offers special rates at several supporting hotels. Your actual costs will vary considerably depending on your lodging needs. Post-Race week $300 $300Both races offer host facilities for the most part.Mandatory layover $100-200 $0The Quest’s required 36 hour layover in Dawson comes with a cost— housing for yourself and handler plus food. You can use a tent in the campground and your cost will be minimal. Handler costs $500-1500 $300-1000Again, this is an area where there can be extreme variations depending on your handler’s needs and where your home base is. Race supplies will vary somewhat; the following is a real indication of the needs of an average dog team. Yukon Quest IditarodBooties $1350 (415) $1800 (900)The first number is the purchase cost, the second number is the actual cost—using a 70% return for the Quest and a 50% return for the Iditarod. The Iditarod has a lower return rate (you may skip a checkpoint and not have a return bag) and they are never 100% efficient on return bags from checkpoints. I used 0.90 per bootie as the base cost. You will spend more on booties in the Iditarod because of the number of checkpoints.Dogfood $1500 (900) $1800 (1800)The cost of dogfood will vary. I used the cost of a good premium dogfood, a meat source and a fat source. I figured 12,000 Kcal per day/per dog at a 58% Kcal fat, 34% protein ratio—for a 12 day race. I added in a 25% safety factor. You can get all of your unused food back from the Quest, with the exception of Eagle. No food returns from the Iditarod. Additionally, they require a 60# minimum to each checkpoint.Sled maintenance $200 $200Mostly runner plastic and spare repair parts.Dog maintenance $100 $100Personal food $50-250 $150-250The tendency is to have more food prepared from home on the Quest. You know you will be camping most of the time. The extra checkpoints of the Iditarod will cause you to send items you will never use, nor be able to send back.Personal items $100-300 $100—400Your personal items will vary considerably. The Iditarod ends in Nome and you will be there for 3-5 days. You need to send everything you may need. You will have your truck along on the Quest— both at the halfway point and at the finish.TOTALS $6115-7615 $11,400-14250Individual costs will vary. The biggest single cost during the Yukon Quest is your vehicle and handler maintenance. You can save money by working together with other mushers to pick up dropped dogs at checkpoints and do some of the clean-up. The place to be careful on the Iditarod is Nome. Plan in advance for transportation needs.

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