THE YUKON Quest 300 is one of the toughest sled dog races in the world, run over the first 333 miles of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest trail.
The trail stretches from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, or the opposite way on alternate years.
In 2012, the YQ 300 took the mushers over the notorious Rosebud and Eagle Summits, generally regarded as the toughest part of trail in any sled dog race in the world. To finish the race well, or at all, is a huge accomplishment; to finish with registered Siberians as opposed to the more typical and fast Alaskan Huskies is incredible.
To finish in second place with a team of registered Siberians, half of them bred from UK sprint racing lines and with a 46-year-old retired Naval Lieutenant from Worcester, England, as the musher is nothing short of astonishing.
But that’s exactly what Rob Cooke and his Shaytaan Siberians did.
Rob and his wife Louise started mushing and showing their Siberians in the UK in 1999, with reasonable success at both disciplines. However, the races in the UK were only about three or four miles long and did not satisfy Rob’s urge to run dogs over longer distances and see just what they were capable of.
So in 2005, Rob, Louise and nine Siberians emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, later moving to New Brunswick, to participate in longer races. In October 2011 Rob took 22 of their 44 dogs across North America to Alaska for the winter and after a lot of training and some races of 150-200 miles he entered the team in the YQ300 and surprised a lot of people by finishing in second place and also picking up the vets award for outstanding dog care to boot!
"Since returning to New Brunswick, Rob and the sub-Arctic acclimatised team have successfully completed the gruelling Can Am 250-mile race in Northern Maine, with almost the same team, just the addition of a dog sired by UK/Can Ch Huskidoo Lesmok Mhofyr of Shaytaan – a former Crufts CC winner – making the difference,” Louise told DOG WORLD. "In all, seven of the dogs in the 12-dog team had one or both parents from UK lines, exemplifying the KC’s ‘fit For function’ campaign.
"In completing both these races, Rob and the team have now qualified to run the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest itself next winter.”
Readers can follow their progress at www.shaytaanhuskies.com, or on the Shaytaan Siberian Huskies Facebook page.