- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - After 20 years managing a checkpoint along the 1,600-kilometer Yukon Quest, Peter Kamper is looking forward to getting a different view of the sled dog race.

Kamper managed the 101 Mile Steese Highway checkpoint from 1996 to 2015 and only this year will leave the respite between the difficult mountain passes of Rosebud Summit and Eagle Summit in someone else’s hands, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/2jjUesd ). As he prepares to watch the race from Fairbanks, Kamper reflected on races past.

“Eagle Summit has always played a major role in the race,” Kamper said. “It usually creates one story or another. It has made a lot of winners, it has made a lot of losers.”

Kamper, a German national, originally came to Alaska on a summer canoe trip in 1984. He liked the state so much he decided to stay and not return home for medical school. He was drawn to sled dog racing despite not being a musher and soon volunteered to help managed Mile 101.

Under his leadership, the Mile 101 stop went from an optional stop to leave behind dogs to a Yukon Quest checkpoint.

Kamper first joined the quest after a race official convinced him to join the volunteer crew over a drink at a Goldstream Valley bar.

“He said, ‘The only thing is you have to keep a woodstove going.’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He said, ‘Well congratulations, you are the new dog drop manager for Mile 101,’” Kamper recalled.

However, Kamper decided there was more to running Mile 101 than keeping the stove running. Kamper assigned a team of volunteers to keep the kitchen going, organize the crowded dog yard and keep up radio communication with the outside world. Ivory Jack’s, the bar where Kamper first joined the Quest, offered to be a sponsor for the dog drop and kept it stocked with bacon and eggs.

Kamper said he liked his close-up view of the race afforded to him at Mile 101.

This year’s Yukon Quest begins Feb. 4 in Fairbanks.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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