The start line for the 35th Annual Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race was full of energy and parkas.
Fans and mushers alike braved the cold temperatures and made their way to the start line in Fairbanks ready to cheer on the 26 mushers and 364 canine athletes who were about to embark on their 1,000-mile journey. Leaving the chute in three-minute increments, mushers walked up and down their gang lines pumping their team up and saying last minute goodbyes to their team support as the clock counted down.
While many mushers smiled and waved at onlooking fans, rookie Vebjorn Aishana Reitan took the moment to run alongside his team for the first few seconds before hopping on the back of his sled when they were picking up speed raring to hit the trail.
A handful of mushers including Torsten Kohnert, Matt Hall, Rob Cooke, Ryne Olson, Claudia Wickert, Paige Drobny, Riley Dyche, Alex Buetow, Mike Ellis and Jason Campeau decided to spend a few hours at a popular resting spot at 43-mile on their way to Two Rivers. Meanwhile, Hugh Neff was the first musher to arrive in Two Rivers and after resting for just under five hours, hit the trail towards Mile 101. Paige Drobny left just before Neff after resting two and half hours.
Matt Hall, Allen Moore, Nathaniel Hamlyn and Jason Campeau opted to blow through Two Rivers and are on their way to Mile 101.
As of 11:59pm, Luc Tweddell, Torsten Kohnert, Vebjorn Aishana Reitan, Katherine Keith, Claudia Wickert, Ryne Olson, Rob Cooke, Bernhard Schuchert, Tim Pappas, Severin Cathry, Mike Ellis, Riley Dyche, Dave Dalton, Christine Roalofs are resting at Two Rivers. Those mushers still enroute to Two Rivers include Laura Neese, Ed Hopkins, Jennifer Campeau, Mark Stamm, Alex Buetow and Ike Underwood.