$100,000 up for grabs as Nunavut Quest begins after delayed start

Like other events this spring, the Nunavut Quest dog sled race began behind schedule due to shifts in the weather and concerns for safety on the ice.

“Nunavut Quest dogs will have rough trails on soft snow,” commented Piuri Ikalukjuak on the Facebook group.

The annual race, which is an estimated one-week trek between Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet, kicked off a day late on April 16 at 3 p.m.

Support snowmobiles left an hour earlier to be on hand for what was expected to be 12 dog teams and their mushers departing, but that was quickly reduced to 10 due to two withdrawals. Weather conditions from the outset in Arctic Bay were described as “overcast with white snow and fairly white out.”

The Arctic Bay mushers are David Oyukuluk, Jeremy Koonoo, Donovan Qaunaq, Tom Naqitarvik and Andre Philip Taqtu (Apak).

The Iglulik participants are Jashua Qiliqti Ivalu and Jinneal Uttak (Nanuraq).

The Pond Inlet competitors are Lee Inuarak, Daniel Inuarak and Owen Jaworenko.

Pond Inlet’s Panuilie Enuaraq and Arctic Bay’s Michael Qaunaq dropped out.

Nunavut Quest has a budget of $100,000 through the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and its allotment from Qikiqtani Truth Commission funding, which is dedicated to the Qimuksiqtiit (dog team) revitalization efforts.

Cash prizes are as follows:

1st place - $20,000

2nd place - $15,000

3rd place - $10,000

4th place - $5,000

5th place - $2,500

6th – 12th place - $2,000

This year, there is also a group of Iglulik students participating in the race. The students are travelling with the racers, acting as official timekeepers. They are outfitted with a Starlink device, and will send updates throughout the race.

Kira Wronska Dorward, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunavut News