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The Nunavut Quest

Updated: May 7, 2022

It's been a long wait since the last Nunavut Quest sled dog race - and even the event now underway has involved some waiting, thanks to "pretty full-blown blizzards."

Team of dogs pulling a sled across the white landscape

The Nunavut Quest is a big event in the Baffin region in Canada's far north, particularly after it was cancelled for the last two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, amid much excitement, thirteen brave mushers started this extreme race last week, to run their dog teams from Arctic Bay to the finish line in Igloolik - which, reassuringly, means "there is a house here."

It's a remote route of more than 400 kilometres (250 miles), over sea ice and tundra, in sometimes harsh Arctic weather. There are no communities along the way, and seven designated camp spots roughly 50 kilometres apart.

Over the weekend, one musher had to drop out of the race because dogs had chewed up his harnesses and lead ropes. Not something you have to concern yourself with during most races!

The Nunavut Quest is regarded as an important way to bring families and friends together again after a couple of years when some have lost loved ones, bringing people from other communities into town who have not seen each other in a while.

The first Nunavut Quest was run in 1999, to mark the creation of the new territory that year. The event was designed to celebrate and preserve the Inuit tradition of travel by dog team.

The winner of the race this year, which will finish sometime this week, will receive $20,000, while second- and third-place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. Everyone else who finishes will receive $1,000.


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