Yukon was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and was originally named the Yukon Territory. The federal government's Yukon Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2002, established Yukon as the territory's official name, though Yukon Territory is also still popular in usage and Canada Post continues to use the territory's internationally approved postal abbreviation of YT. Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon Government also recognizes First Nations languages.
In the competition, first run in 1984, a dog team leader (called a musher) and a team of 6 to 14 dogs race for 10 to 20 days. The course follows the route of the historic 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, mail delivery, and transportation routes between Fairbanks, Dawson City, and Whitehorse. Mushers pack up to 250 pounds (113 kg) of equipment and provisions for themselves and their dogs to survive between checkpoints. They are permitted to leave dogs at checkpoints and dog drops, but not to replace them.