The Yukon Quest's 300 mile race has been shortened to roughly 200 miles this year due to a lack of snow, according to race officials.

The YQ300 is typically run on the first 300 miles of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest race course, which rotates starting points each year between Whitehorse and Fairbanks. The 2019 Yukon Quest will start in the Yukon territory of Canada, with plans to run from Whitehorse to Stepping Stone. The YQ300 will now run from Whitehorse to Braeburn and loop back.

Race Marshal Doug Harris said it was a tough decision to make, but trail scouts reported dangerous conditions for the first leg of the Quest. Ultimately, Harris says, the race was shortened with the safety of dogs and mushers in mind.

“The report I have for up to Braeburn is it’s low snow conditions," Harris said. "[The trail is] passable, but further, beyond Braeburn, there were sections of trail that were of concern…and not miles and miles, but you only need a couple miles of really dangerous trail to cause someone to get hurt, either a dog or a musher.”

Harris says it remains unclear if the YQ300, which is a qualifying race for the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod, will act as a qualifier this year, now that the distance has been scaled back by about a third.

“The 1,000-mile race has various options because it’s got 1,000 miles of trail so we can get the mushers to the good trail somehow,” explained Harris.

The YQ300 is scheduled to start on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m., with the 36th annual Yukon Quest starting three hours earlier at 11 a.m.

Editor's note: This story originally stated there were no changes to the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest. It has been edited to reflect the changes that were announced on Monday, Jan. 21.

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