It’s true, the Yukon Quest really is all about the dogs, but it takes a lot of humans to make this historic event happen, from the volunteers, checkpoint, managers, handlers, veterinarians and judges; the small army of people from near and far that set aside their personal lives anywhere from a few days to several weeks to work on the Quest.
Eddie Grant and Jane Lund are from the San Francisco Bay area and have been volunteers for many years. Eddie and Jane are both dog people, and it was Jane that talked Eddie into being part of the Quest. Eddie had been to Dawson in the summer, but never the winter. A Quest volunteer now for 11 years, he’s clearly hooked, to the point that he actually has a storage locker in Whitehorse to store his winter gear so all he has to do is fly in to Whitehorse, rent a car and grab his gear from year to year. “Dawson City is my favourite city in the world,” he said.
Eddie has been a checkpoint manager for four years in Pelly Crossing. “That was really fun working in a First Nations community,” he added. This year, Eddie has a press pass and is covering the second half of the race for The Sled Dogger magazine. He will be volunteering at the Finish Banquet.
Jane is Eddie’s friend, and has been a volunteer for 11 years. Jane’s passion for the Yukon Quest began when she went on a commercial mushing trip a dozen years ago. “People were talking about it, so I started looking into it, decided to volunteer and got right into it,” she said. This year Jane worked on the Alaska side working with the trackers, bringing dogs to the line for YQ300, doing the vet books for that race. Here in Dawson, she’s helped out with the vet checks. “I’ve done a lot of different things along the way,” she added. In Jane’s real life she works with a Northern Breed rescue organization so is very familiar with the types of breeds that run the Quest.
Neither Eddie nor Jane see themselves ‘quitting’ the Quest volunteer scene anytime soon. An avid motorcyclist, Eddie keeps his bike in Whitehorse so he has even more reason to come back to the Yukon. Jane feels much the same. “You get right in the middle of the action and get to know a lot of people,” she said; which seems to be so much of the attraction and a common theme for many of the people behind the scenes, here on the Yukon Quest Trail.