Mushers

Mushers
 

 

Niko Innuarak
 

Pond Inlet
 

Niko Innuarak hails from a Pond Inlet family famous for its dogs. Niko had a brand new team in this race, which made his job that much harder.

Esa Palituq
 

Clyde River
 

Esa won the pre-race trial in Pond Inlet. His dogs are fast but they hadn't had enough time to practice through the winter. As the race wore on, the dogs tired and several were taken out of the team.

Joelie Quanaq
 

Arctic Bay
 

This was Joelie's first time at the Quest -- the first time he really got to test his dogs. One important reason he signed up was that his mother Oingoot wanted to go. She hooked up with the other grannies in the support teams and they made it a party!

Peter Siakaluk
 

Hall Beach
 

Peter Siakaluk traveled eleven days just to make it to the start. He’s been in every Quest since the beginning, and this was his last. He used his prize money to buy a new snowmobile to get back home to Hall Beach.

Denise Maliki
 

Repulse Bay
 

Denise Maliki, from Naujat, takes turns with her dad Paul to drive the super-fast family team. Their secret: “Happy dogs” says Denise. Her commands to the dogs sound like gentle whispers.

Olayus Barnabas
 

Arctic Bay
 

What Olayus likes most about the Nunavut Quest is the social part, with all the families getting together. He and his wife Rhoda always bring kids and grandchildren. This was his 9th time at the race, and he's never seen the snow so deep and soft. The warm temperatures worry him!

Sam Omik
 

Pond Inlet
 

Sam's dogs spend much of their time at the floe edge off Pond Inlet. They're trained to hunt polar bears, so when they got the scent of a bear on the third day of the race, there was nothing Sam could do to get them back on track. The bear detour cost him more than an hour!

Raygilee Piungituq
 

Clyde River
 

Raygeelee grew up with dogs and had been on her husband's support team in earlier years, still Raygeelee was intimidated by her lack of practice. Then on her way to the start, she lost two dogs. But Raygeelee and her team prevailed, starting slow and picking up speed as the race went on. "My grandchildren are so proud of me," she laughed at the finish line.

Jake Awa
 

Pond Inlet
 

He's a musician and one of Pond Inlet's old-timers with dogs, always smiling and giving the impression that he's out for a simple Sunday ride. One day Jake's dogs veered off the trail and took him for a mystery ride. Their prey: a tiny polar bear cub, abandoned and frozen to death in a white furry ball.

Jake Gearheard
 

Clyde River
 

Jake Gearheard is little more than a babe in the woods when it comes to Arctic dog-sledding. This American has lived in Clyde River since 2005 but has already two Quests behind him and is rapidly closing in on the front ranks.

Natalino Piungatuq
 

Igloolik
 

Like most of the teams from the western regions, Natalino and his dogs had to adjust to the mountains and weather patterns of the Baffin east coast. The extra effort required showed toward the end of the race, when the dogs said, "We'll do this at our own pace."

Andy Attagutalukutuk
 

Igloolik
 

Andy's team ran fast and steady from start to finish. Towards the end, it became a closely-fought contest with his nephew Joey for the spot of the fastest team from Igloolik.

Joey Aqiaruq
 

Igloolik
 

Joey Akiaruq first raced in the Quest when he was 17. That year, he was asleep on his sled when he crossed the finish line! He and his father Joanasie take turns driving their fast team from Igloolik.

David Iqaqrialu
 

Clyde River
 

David Iqaqrialu grew up “on the land” with fellow mushers Raygilee and Joelie, and they’ve had a friendly rivalry ever since. Six years ago, David was happy to end his career as a politician because it meant he could begin running dogs again.

Joelie Sanguya
 

Clyde River
 

This year's Nunavut Quest was a Sanguya family event with four generations on the team. After years of having no dogs, Joelie's mother Akitiq insisted they bring back the tradition. After Joelie, next musher in line is his grandson Jordan.

Moses Ujukuluk
 

Arctic Bay
 

Moses Ujukuluk was Mayor of Arctic Bay when a group of dog owners there decided to organize the very first Quest in 1999. He laments his age but Moses is still one agile, fast musher.

Lee Innuarak
 

Pond Inlet
 

The Innuarak family is a fixture on the Quest. Father Charlie insisted that sons Niko and Lee were competing in the best of brotherly spirit this year. Good thing, as Lee bested Niko by one single minute in more than forty hours total on the trail!