After missing out on first place last year by just eight seconds, Aliy Zirkle won the 2014 YQ300 Monday.
Even though a sprint to the finish wasn't necessary this time, Zirkle came blazing into Central at 7:32 pm, 11 dogs leading the way. Chase Tingle, Zirkle’s closest competitor, was several miles back, but she wasn’t taking any chances.
Tingle and Zirkle came into Circle close together and left the same way, but Tingle turned around to drop two dogs from his team and that cost him in the end. He came into Central at 9:07 pm.
Heidi Sutter, who had the lead earlier in the 300, finished in third place. She arrived at 10:06 pm with 9 dogs. The remaining mushers had yet to arrive as of 11 pm.
Seven other mushers are left in the YQ300 after Jesse Brattrud scratched early Monday. Sebastian Schnuelle, Laura Allaway, Jimmy Lebing, Amanda Gecas, Andrew Pace and Ryne Olson had all left Circle on their final leg.
The 10th musher, Simon McLoughlin, was on his way to Circle, 38 miles out.
It was a busy day in the 1,000 mile race as well, with Fairbanks resident Mike Ellis scratching and another veteran musher, British Columbia’s Jerry Joinson, taking an eight-hour penalty.
Ellis made the decision to scratch at 6:25 pm in the Circle checkpoint, for the well being of his dogs. Joinson was given the time penalty for use of a replacement sled after he damaged his original sled on the trail between Central and Circle.
As per the rules, Race Marshal Doug Grilliot approved a replacement sled and decided Joinson’s eight-hour penalty time will be served in Dawson City on top of his mandatory 36 hours.
Brent Sass continued to lead the race on Day 3. As of 11 pm he was approximately 35 miles from Eagle, while Allen Moore and Hugh Neff were resting at Trout Creek Hospitality Stop about 40 miles out.
Cody Strathe left Slaven’s Roadhouse at 7:40 pm en route to Eagle, while Dave Dalton, John Schandelmeier and Matt Hall were all resting at Slaven’s. In seventh place, Hall is currently the top rookie in this year’s Yukon Quest, as he heads toward his hometown of Eagle.
Ken Anderson, Curt Perano and Torsten Kohnert all checked out of Circle City late in the afternoon and were headed for Slaven’s. The back of the pack continues to rest in Circle, with Mandy Nauman, Jerry Joinson, Hank DeBruin and Brian Wilmshurst enjoying the warm hospitality at the fire hall.
Tony Angelo, currently in the Red Lantern position, arrived in Circle at 9:36 pm and parked his dogs for a well-deserved break.
With the elimination of 50 miles of trail between Eagle and Dawson City, the first musher is now expected in Dawson City around 6 am on February 5th.
For all the latest photos, check out the Official Yukon Quest Flickr Page.