The 35th running of the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race has its champion.
Greeted by his daughter, Bridgett and handlers Jeff and Moira, Allen Moore came across the Whitehorse finish line at 7:59am with the same 14 dogs he began the race with in Fairbanks 9 days, 18 hours, and 53 minutes prior. Moore’s four year-old lead dogs Commando and Dutch, who led for 90% of the race, brought him in for the win. This was Moore’s eighth Yukon Quest, third win, and as the first musher into Dawson, he also gets 2 ounces of Yukon gold.
Asked how he kept his full team for the whole race, Moore replied, “If I knew the answer how to do that every time, I would be doing it.” Of the trail conditions, Moore said, “This year, the trail was great, the only thing you had to deal with was the cold, if you could deal with that it was good.” Is he considering another Quest run? “I’ll come back next year and try for four.”
Defending champion Matt Hall had to settle for second place this year, arriving in Whitehorse with a team of 11 at 2:42pm, about eight hours behind the winner, for a total time of 10 days, 2 hours, 24 minutes.
Hall praised his team’s abilities, saying “They performed great, we had an awesome run with them.” His highlight? “Coming in toward the end here with the puppies, the young dogs on the team, watching how well they’re performing. This is the future of the team for sure. These guys are incredible. It’s incredible seeing what this team is turning into. These guys are gonna be awesome.” And Hall, too, indicated he’ll likely be in the running for next year’s Quest: “Every year by the time I’m about two days into the race I say ‘I’m never doing this again,’ and then now here I am saying ‘Yep, I’ll be back next year.” “
Twenty-one-year-old Quest veteran Laura Neese and her team of eight were next into Whitehorse at 4:45pm, led by five-year-olds Maple and Elmer. “We definitely would not be in third without her,” Neese said of Maple, and Elmer “really stepped up to the task in the second half. He really grew up a lot so I’m excited for him, his future.” Both dogs ran lead for about 750 miles of Neese’s race.
Asked about her highlights this year, Neese’s choices were all elevation. “I always like the Black Hills, but I tend to always hit them at sunrise, so the beauty surrounding them always overcomes the pain. And summiting Rosebud was beautiful. Moments like that kinda take your breath away, remind me why I’m so crazy and do this.” Will she be back for another one? “You betcha.”
Vebjorn Aishana Reitan hit the line at 8:23pm with 11 dogs, for a total time of 10 days, 7 hours, 23 minutes, good enough for fourth place and Rookie of the Year honours. Reitan explained that his strategy throughout the race was to simply “keep achieving small goals,” checkpoint to checkpoint, but admitted that some first-timer second-guessing did enter his mind when he got to Dawson, thinking to himself, “Man, I must be messing up since I’m toward the front here, I don’t belong here.” The Kaktovik, AK musher said his Quest highlight was “Going over American Summit. That was really beautiful. I did it at night time, no wind, really calm. You could just see for a long ways. It was just a really beautiful trip up there.”
Two more mushers are currently on their way to Whitehorse. Fifth place Ed Hopkins left Braeburn at 8:40am, sixth place Tim Pappas at 8:53pm. At day’s end Hopkins had only six miles to go to the finish line, while Pappas still had 67 miles.
Bernhard Schuchert made Braeburn to begin his 8-hour mandatory effective 10:59pm, while Luc Tweddell, Alex Buetow and Claudia Wickert were still enroute, spread out roughly ten miles apart, starting with Tweddell at just under 20 miles from the final checkpoint.
After rest in Carmacks since 3:43pm, 11th place Riley Dyche has yet to begin his run to Braeburn.
Dave Dalton and Rob Cooke came into Carmacks a mere six minutes apart, at 7:15pm and 7:21pm, respectively. Nathaniel Hamlyn joined them an hour and a half later. All three were still resting there as of midnight.
After returning to Carmacks this morning, Bib #10 Paige Drobny was a late scratch today, citing her desire to keep her team happy and healthy as the reason for her decision.
Standings as of 11:59pm:
- Allen Moore - FINAL
- Matt Hall - FINAL
- Laura Neese - FINAL
- Vebjorn Aishana Reitan - FINAL
- Ed Hopkins
- Tim Pappas
- Bernhard Schuchert
- Luc Tweddell
- Alex Buetow
- Claudia Wickert
- Riley Dyche
- Rob Cooke
- Nathaniel Hamlyn
- Dave Dalton