The race trail stretches approximately 1,600 kilometres between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, with four mandatory rest points. The start and finish lines alternate each year.
Wilmshurst drew bib no.1 at the draw banquet Thursday night. Carcross musher Crispin Studer, who drew bib no. 26, will be the last to depart.
This will be Wilmshurst's second Yukon Quest.
"I was hanging out too long in checkpoints last year and just having too much fun, I think," said Wilmshurst. "I'll get a little more serious this year, maybe."
There are some strong veteran mushers in the race, including four-time champion Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, Alaska. At this week's Meet the Mushers event Mackey was feeling cautiously optimistic.
"I have a great feeling," he said. "That doesn't mean I'm going to win. That is ultimately my goal, though, so sitting here right now I'm not going to lie. I'm a little nervous."
Last year's winner Hugh Neff of Tok, Alaska, is also back for another shot at winning the race.
The prize money is $100,000 US split among the top 15 finishers. The first place musher will take home about $18,000 US.
Twelve of the teams got their vet checks done in Whitehorse last weekend — 10 teams from Yukon and two from Alaska.
The checks decide which dogs run the Quest. Their temperatures are taken, their heart rates and respiratory rates checked.
Dogs that have never run the Quest are fitted with a microchip, so they can be scanned throughout the race.
“We [note] anything down that we think would be a concern and then they have those 10 days to fix them up to make sure that they are ready to race,” said veterinarian Kim Friedenberg.
“Then the decision is made by the actual race vets that are working on the race.”
The race begins Saturday at 11 a.m. from Shipyards Park in Whitehorse. The first musher should cross the finish line in Fairbanks in about 10 days.