I’m Andrew Cooke, I’m aged [redacted] and I’m about to embark on the experience of my life.
Let’s make a long story short. My little brother is called Robert Cooke. He retired from the Royal Navy in 2008 and having moved to Canada became a sled dog racer. I’m going to be one of his handlers on the 2016 Yukon Quest.
OK, that’s too short.
Rob and his wife Louise began their kennel, Shaytaan Siberian Huskies whilst still living in the UK. They moved to Canada in 2005 when Rob took on an exchange with the Canada Royal Air Force. He finished his navy career there whilst steadily growing the kennel and using his team to provide leisure rides for visitors.
After leaving the navy Rob and Louise moved across the country eventually settling near Whitehorse in the Yukon territory in the far north west of Canada. Since moving there Rob has continued to develop the team and over the last four years has achieved his dream of first qualifying for and then participating in the greatest challenge a sled dog racer can, the 1000 mile race between Canada and Alaska, The Yukon Quest.
In 2012 Rob qualified for the Yukon Quest by finishing a magnificent second in its feeder race, the Yukon Quest 300. In 2013 he joined the race for the first time finishing 18th.
After taking a rest the following year in 2015 he entered not only the Yukon Quest but also the other “great race” in North America, the Iditarod.
In finishing 16th in the Yukon Quest and 50th (of 78 starters) he became the first racer ever to complete both races in the same year with a team of purebred Siberian Huskies.
In February and March 2016 Rob is attempting to repeat that feat, to complete two 1,000 mile sled dog races in freezing conditions.
The only support the racer receives over the ten to twelve days it takes to complete the 1000 mile distance is from his handlers. Chris Leyland and Rob’s wife, Louise, handled for him in 2015. In 2016 they will be getting my inexpert assistance.
This is the journey of a lifetime and I’m going to try and report it, each step of the way, on this website.