Day 3: Hospitality Unlimited

Monday, February 6, 2017

Familiar faces and good food was a recurring theme for Day 3 of the Yukon Quest, from the flapjacks and omelettes on offer in Carmacks and Pelly Crossing, to the buffets and burritos of the McCabe and Stepping Stone hospitality stops.

The start of Day 3 found Brent Sass, Allen Moore, Katherine Keith, and Ed Hopkins taking a break at McCabe Creek, while leader Hugh Neff had already been moving for a half-hour on his way to Pelly Crossing. Matt Hall opted to skip the storied McCabe hospitality in order to gain some ground on the leader.

Travelling duo Laura Neese and Ed Stielstra had only been in Carmacks for 20 minutes when Gaetan Pierrard began the pre-dawn decamp out of Carmacks around 1:34AM. Rob Cooke was up and gone by 3:08AM, followed by Dave Dalton just before 3:23AM, and Sébastien Dos Santos Borges shortly after 5AM.

Back up trail, Neff was first into Pelly Crossing at 3:08AM, and had already restocked from his drop bags and departed by the time Hall arrived at 3:40AM. While Team Hall bedded down for a rest, Sass was the next arrival at 3:17AM, staying only long enough to drop a dog before taking his turn at chasing after Neff. The rest of the peloton— Moore, Hopkins, Keith, and Drobny— trickled in over the next three hours, with all but Keith staying to rest. Moore, Keith, and Drobny all dropped a dog each.

Sass’s swift pace in his pursuit paid off, as he caught up to Neff just before 9AM as the two slid into the Stepping Stone hospitality stop, where they gave themselves and their teams a solid five-hour rest. Moore and Keith were both in time for a Stepping Stone lunch, while Matt Hall took his to go, showing up around 1PM and carrying right on and into the Black Hills. Hopkins made the same choice when he arrived just before 3PM.

Sass and Neff departed shortly after 2PM and caught up to a resting Hall an hour later, after which Sass picked up some speed and has put 18 miles of breathing room between he and Neff, who are both now past Scroggie Creek. Third place Matt Hall is ten miles behind Neff, with Allen Moore and Katherine Keith trail by 13 and 20 miles, respectively.

Today also brought with it a champion and runner-up in the YQ300. Tagish, Yukon’s Michelle Phillips adds another 300 title to her resume, finishing in an impressive 51 hours, 51 minutes. Second place went to Two Rivers, AK musher Aliy Zirkle, posting a final time of 55 hours, 14 minutes. Nathaniel Hamlyn is on pace to take 3rd.

Standings as of 11:59PM (1,000-mile):

1. Brent Sass
2. Hugh Neff
3. Matt Hall
4. Allen Moore
5. Katherine Keith
6. Paige Drobny
7. Ed Hopkins
8. Ryne Olson
9. Yuka Honda
10. Torsten Kohnert
11. Brian Wilmshurst
12. Gaetan Pierrard
13. Rob Cooke
14. Dave Dalton
15. Ben Good
16. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges
17. Ed Stielstra
18. Laura Neese
19. Jessie Royer
20. Jason Campeau
21. Hank DeBruin