All Trails Lead to Braeburn

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The 34th running of the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race got off to a crisp and sunny start today as crowds gathered under bluebird skies to take in the excitement

The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers welcomed all with the performance of an Entrance Dance, followed by a ceremonial start with a dog team clad in traditional dog blankets courtesy of the Kwanlin Dün crafting group.

For the second year in a row the first musher out was a female Quest rookie: Fairbanks, Alaska resident Jessie Royer. 2016 Champion Hugh Neff was ninth out of the chute, his team sporting matching Chicago Cubs bandanas in honour of his childhood hometown’s recent World Series win. The honour of last out went to Torsten Kohnert of Sweden, the sixth-place finisher in last year’s race. Each musher was accompanied for the first mile of the race by a winner of the Quest Guest fundraiser program, and Rob Cooke, it was revealed, had yet another passenger: the ashes of a recently departed friend who will ride with Rob to find a final resting place in Dawson City.

After plenty of early jockeying for position, Hugh Neff pulled away from the pack halfway to Braeburn, arriving into the checkpoint at 9:46PM and opting to stay his four hours. Yuka Honda was the only other musher to make it to Braeburn same-day, pulling in shortly before midnight and also opting for a four-hour rest. At the close of the first day the lead pack is rounded out by Brent Sass, Allen Moore, Paige Drobny, Matt Hall and Katherine Keith all nipping at each other’s heels less than ten miles out of the first checkpoint.

Standings as of 11:59PM:

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