Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Following the Quest

The Yukon Quest starts Saturday!  The Quest has really led the way in making use of clever, inexpensive tracking services (Trackleaders) and leveraging social media.

I thought it might be worth a short post describing options for following the race online, so people can make sure that they're set up to take advantage of everything that's available.

The official website
First, the Yukon Quest website itself.  Their race updates will be the authoritative sources on checkpoint arrival/departure times, accumulated rest, etc.  The GPS trackers will also show times but they're being derived from tracking data and because there's some heuristics involved in determining when a team actually arrives (they have to be within <n> distance of the official checkpoint location, for example) don't be surprised if there are differences between that and the Quest website.  Trust the Quest website for this one.

The Quest website also includes trail and route descriptions and a huge collection of other data.  Poke around - you'll be amazed by what's there.

For German speakers, check out the German website, here.

The Quest communicates directly with fans on Facebook.  Fans also communicate with each other, but again, information from the Quest itself is authoritative and pretty much everything else should be taken with a grain of salt.  The Quest has been excellent about posting photos and videos and providing links to interesting media and articles as the race is underway.  It's probably the main hub for both information from the Quest organization and posts from enthusiastic fans during the race.

Personally, I've found that there's an awful lot of noise and misinformation from enthusiastic fans and while I appreciate the community and their enthusiasm for the race it tends to crowd out posts from the Quest organization itself and make it difficult to follow "official" news.  Fortunately Facebook lets us control our own environment so that we can see what we want without stepping on anybody else's ability to post and participate.  Options include blocking too-frequent posters as well as choosing to not show posts from anybody but the page owner (i.e. the Quest organization).

I tend to prefer to go directly to the Trackleaders website rather than following it through the Quest website.  Probably the primary reason is that if you use the race analysis tools (the race flow plot, the projections) you'll end up there anyway, but it's also the case that the map layers on the Trackleaders site include a topo map and the ones embedded on the race websites don't.

This year Trackleaders is also providing a link to a mobile website, and you might want to create a bookmark in your phone's web browser.  To be honest I find the user interface kind of clunky but just having it available is a huge step forward and I absolutely love that they made this available.  The URI is  Definitely check it out.

You have a few options here.  The most obvious one is to subscribe to @theyukonquest, but they won't be the only ones tweeting about the race, so you can also search for the #yq2012 hashtag through your Twitter client or through Twitter's search interface.  Because not everybody's fastidious about hashtag use I also have running searches on "yukon quest" (include the quote marks).  

Partipants' handlers and/or family members have turned into fierce bloggers and a fun source of information.  I hope to post the listing from my RSS reader before the race starts but in the meantime you can search blogs by going to Google's blog search page and starting a search there.

Alaska and Yukon newspapers do a fantastic job of covering the races, and it's a good bet to check in with them at least once/day for both news and photos.  The must-reads include

And if you're a total Quest junkie, you can also do a newspaper search on Google, at

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