Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Following the Quest from Afar

My workplace is a LONG way from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  In fact, it isn't even particularly close to the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I suspect the winner of the 2013 Quest will arrive back in town well before I do at the end of my tour of duty.  Nonetheless, with a bit of help from modern technology I'll be able to follow the race reasonably closely, and so can you. 

In my opinion, the most valuable tool for following the race is the Live Tracking feature. Each musher's sled is equipped with a SPOT satellite tracking device that transmits GPS data every few minutes.  Though not quite real time (sometimes there can be a considerable delay in transmission of data), the Live Tracking feature give a near real time view of the musher's locations on the trail, and relative to each other. 

As I mentioned, the live tracking feature does have some issues.  SPOT batteries can drain, and sometimes they lose communication with the GPS satellites, especially in some of the more rugged portions of the trail.  The "Leader Board" is then your best source of information, as it gives the official times that mushers arrive and leave checkpoints, their position within the field of mushers, and other data that can help one track the progress of his or her favorite team.

During the race, the Yukon Quest Official Site on FaceBook is VERY active, and once can glean a lot of information from their posts.  Be sure to look for official posts rather than just comments by "friends".  In the past I've seen a lot of comments that were not particularly accurate nor helpful. 

A lot of insights can be garnered by following reports in Alaska news media.  Media sources include the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Anchorage Daily News and the on-line only Alaska Dispatch.  From the Canadian side of the border let's not forget the Whitehorse Daily Star.

Those are the information sources I'll be relying on most as I follow the race, and of course I'll probably post some updates and my own commentary here on the Old School Alaskan blog.

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