Yukon Quest Musher Withdrawn From Race at Dawson City

Alaska musher J.T. Hessert (20) was withdrawn by race officials from the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race this morning in Dawson City, Yukon – the midway point of the 1,000 mile (1,600 kilometre) race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.Yukon Quest Race Marshal Mike McCowan made the decision upon Hessert’s arrival into the checkpoint at 5:03 a.m. based on Rule 31 B of the official 2007 Yukon Quest rules.Rule 31 B states that ‘A team may be involuntarily withdrawn from the race by the Race Marshal. This decision is made to protect the dog, the driver, or the event itself and does not imply deliberate misconduct or rule violation.A withdrawal differs from a disqualification in that the former does not involve ill intent or misconduct by the musher.”In no way, shape or form does J.T.’s withdrawal indicate any wrong-doing,” said McCowan. “I had concerns about J.T., his dogs and the event itself down the trail due to his lack of planning, but there was no question about dog care – only lack of preparation.”Hessert, unlike the other 27 teams that started the race last Saturday in Whitehorse, does not have a “handler” or support team. Handlers traditionally clean up after their team has left a checkpoint, pick up dropped dogs, drive the team truck, set up camp for the 36-hour layover and tend to the dogs while the mushers rest in Dawson City.Hessert’s team was not able to move into the Start Chute at his appointed time during the Race Start in Whitehorse.Yukon Quest rules state that any musher not at the start line at his or her designated start time may still start the race, but must wait until the last musher departs the chute. Hessert eventually departed after the final team John Schandelmeier (28), however Hessert’s official time began at the original, assigned start time costing him 27 minutes.The official rules also state that a driver may protest the Race Marshal’s decision and Hessert indicated to the media that he would submit a protest.The Race Marshal provided Hessert with an official protest form, which will be reviewed by the Yukon Quest Rules Committee following the 2007 race.


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