DeBruin scratches from Yukon Quest
By Darren Lum
Published Feb. 14, 2017
Early Monday morning at 3:50 a.m. Alaska time, Haliburton’s Hank DeBruin pulled his team from the 2017 Yukon Quest in Eagle, Alaska.
The official Yukon Quest website said on Monday, Feb. 13, DeBruin “scratched from the race in Eagle, Alaska. His decision was made for the well-being of his team.”
The Yukon Quest is an epic 1,000 mile (1,600 kilometre) international sled dog race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. It started on Feb. 4.
Among mushers like Hank, it is considered among the toughest dogsled races in the world.
This year’s installment has had six mushers, five veteran mushers and one rookie musher, scratch. Racers experienced cold and damp temperatures, as low as negative 40 Celsius.
The 54-year-old, who runs the Winterdance Dogsled Tours with his wife Tanya McCready-DeBruin and his family, completed 936 kilometres of the 1,600 distance before he scratched with eight dogs. He was at the back of the field.
His support crew for the race was his wife Tanya, his son Logan and brother-in-law Ward McCready.
The official website said this race is based on the historical Gold Rush and mail delivery dogsled routes from the turn of the 20th century.
From the Winterdance Facebook page, a post written by Tanya on Sunday pointed out Hank’s devotion to his dog team, his concern for others and alluded to pressures facing DeBruin the day before the decision to scratch.
“We are always proud of the dogs – all of us. But today I am especially proud of my husband. He has been bashed pretty thoroughly on social media for leaving Dawson/for the speed the team is travelling/for not caring for his dogs/for not caring about the volunteers in the checkpoints etc. Some of it by mushers we called friends. He considered all this before deciding to leave. It would have been way easier to say I’m done in Dawson – it isn’t fun leaving at the back and knowing there is not another team anywhere around. But quitting because it is the easiest thing to do is not the correct solution either when organizers are supportive and the dogs are doing fine,” she wrote. “I have never met a musher who loves their dogs more than Hank and only a select few who love them as much or is as committed to them as he is. That is why I never worry about our dogs on the trail with him; he will do everything in his power for them. I worry about him as sometimes he focuses on the dogs so much he doesn’t’ focus enough on himself. The race has not gone as planned for several reasons some outside our control/some not and we have talked about what changes we can make to correct them.”
Tanya concludes her post, expressing her unwavering belief in their dogs and her husband.
“Regardless though of where this race ends I know my husband and our dogs will have given it their absolute best – my husband knows no other option – and our family will be proud of him and support whatever decision he makes with our heads held high,” she said.