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Quest mushers pack varied fare for the trail -- from gourmet to fast-food

Posted: Monday, January 22, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Mushers running the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race worked over the weekend to get their food and supplies ready for the thousand-mile run.

About 24 tons of frozen food, hay, dog booties, sled runner plastic and other sundries will be cached at checkpoints in time for the Quest's Feb. 11 start at Whitehorse, race manager Leo Olesen said.

Some of the mushers are planning to eat well along the trail.

John Gourley turned in bundles of Ziploc bags containing Spanish rice with reindeer sausage, Caribbean rice with prime rib, scrambled eggs with mushrooms and packages of instant apple cider.

Mushers may need a culinary boost to help keep their spirits up this year. Trail conditions along the Yukon River are said to be historically poor, with hundreds of miles of jumbled ice forcing detours.

Denali Park's Jim Hendrick may be angling for a sponsorship from fast-food giant McDonald's. He packed several Egg McMuffins along with some meatloaf and chocolate chip cookies -- ''lots of chocolate chip cookies,'' he said.

After running the Quest nine times, Hendrick should know what he likes to eat.

''It's not really a science,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''It's more like controlled chaos.''

A penchant for junk food isn't the sole domain of Hendrick.

Quest rookie Joran Freeman plans to fuel his run with pizza, among other foods, and of course, cookies. That's if he can keep from eating them as they emerge from the oven, he said.

Nenana's Carrie Farr won the distinction of having the smelliest food drop. The pungent aroma of the fish Farr packed for her dogs was thick in the air near where the Quest mushers were preparing their food bundles Saturday.

''Some dogs like what they call 'stinky fish,''' Olesen said, ''especially if they aren't eating well and need something to liven up their diet.''



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