Spouse replaces injured Quest musher

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Back problems won’t stop the Ledwidge family in Dawson City from competing in the 1,600-kilometre Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Wife Ann’s name has been added to the list of mushers planning to leave the starting gate of the race Feb. 9 in Fairbanks and follow a trail to Whitehorse, while husband Peter’s name has been taken off the list of 29 mushers competing in the race.

“It was a very emotional day in our house when Peter realized that he couldn’t run the Yukon Quest due to back problems. After considering selling the team, I decided to run the race as I’ve always thought of myself as the ‘back up’ musher,” Ann, 41, wrote on her musher profile featured on the Yukon Quest web site.

In fact, it was due to back problems Peter had that Ann began to enjoy running dogs.

She noted that when Peter hurt his back in 2001, the couple’s dogs had to be run so she started taking them out again and enjoyed it. By that time, she wrote, the dogs had been well-trained and were into it.
Prior to that, Ann hadn’t been on a dog sled in four years.

“My first time on a dog sled, my wheel dog had the brakes on so much he piled snow up in front of him, like in the cartoons. He became a pet and I didn’t get on a sled again for four years,” she wrote.

While this will mark Ann’s first entry into the long-distance race, she’s no stranger to mid-distance competitions including the Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race in Dawson.

In that event, she placed fifth in 2006, sixth in 2004, eighth in 2003 and 10th in 2002.

In the Copper Basin competition, she finished ninth in 2004. She also ran the Yukon Quest 250 in 2001, finishing third.

Ann also serves as president of the Percy De Wolfe Memorial Mail Race.

As for why she opted to enter the race, she noted that along with experiencing the trail and adventure of the Quest, it will also give her and her husband “something to talk about in our old age.”

In Peter’s profile, posted when he originally entered the race, he noted with plans to work overseas for a year, this would likely be his last Quest for a while.

Peter has competed in the Quest seven times, with his best finish in 2004, when he placed fourth.

He’s also finished the Percy De Wolfe six times, winning it in 2006, as well as the Copper Basin three times and a number of shorter contests.

While Ann, along with son Marc, 12, and daughter Emilie, 11, were listed as Peter’s handlers originally, it will now be Peter and their two kids handling for Ann.

“I’m glad Peter will be there at the checkpoints to give me moral support,” Ann wrote in her profile on the Quest website.

In addition to running their Stardust Kennels (named after the David Bowie tune Ziggy Stardust, which was also the name of their first dog) together, the family also operates The Dog House store in Dawson, selling mushing equipment and supplies.

Ann will be joined by another 28 mushers heading out on the trail.

Of them, 10 are listed as living in the territory, with veteran Quest musher Hugh Neff listing his residence as both Whitehorse and Skagway.

Aside from Neff, there are 15 competitors from Alaska, the most recent entry being veteran Dan Kaduce of Chatanika.

Mike Ellis of New Hampshire; Andreas Moser of Zurich, Switzerland; Trent Herbst of Idaho and Wisconsin resident Donald Schmidt will also compete as rookies in their first Quest.

Ellis, his wife, Sue, and their kennel have spent the winter training in the territory, based out of a cabin off the Annie Lake Road, with Moser training out of Quest veteran Sebastian Schnuelle’s Blue Kennels.

While the entry deadline passed on Dec. 14, the late registration deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

Source: Whitehorse STAR

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