Day 12: Ever Closer

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Half the pack is now in, with the fifth, sixth, and seventh place mushers crossing the finish line today, and the remaining seven expected over the course of the day tomorrow.

Arriving into Whitehorse at 12:52am and finishing with a team of 12, Yukon’s Ed Hopkins took fifth place overall, making the run from Braeburn 16 hours, for a total time of 10 days, 11 hours, 58 minutes. Hopkins said the most memorable part of this year’s Quest for him were the temperatures on the Alaskan side. “The grey area between Circle and Slaven’s, that was just a cold, miserable, desolate arctic ice land, that place. I’ve never felt wind that cut through me like that before. It was nasty. I mean it felt like knives being thrown at me. It went through everything.”

Sixth place went to rookie Tim Pappas of Willow, AK. Pappas, who ran much of the race without seeing the other mushers, finished with a total time of 10 days, 22 hours, 37 minutes. The second rookie to finish this year’s Quest, Pappas gave full credit for his top-ten finish to his dogs. “I’ve just felt pretty lucky to be travelling with them this whole way. They exceeded my expectations throughout the entire race, and so here we are in sixth place.” Asked what the highlight of his rookie run had been, the 28 year-old answered, “Going over American Summit and then over King Solomon’s Dome was pretty cool. I went over American Summit in the morning, at sunrise, and it was just stunningly beautiful. And then sunset over King Solomon’s Dome. It was great. It was a very uplifting mountaintop experience.” Pappas’ advice for next year’s crop of rookies? “Dress warm.”

At 11:15pm, exactly 15 hours and 24 minutes after leaving the Braeburn checkpoint, Bernhard Schuchert finished his first Yukon Quest. Arriving with 11 dogs on the line, his total time tallied to 11 days, 10 hours, 36 minutes. The German musher, who has competed in the Iditarod and over a dozen Finnmarksløpets, said the Quest is the toughest race he’s ever done, and the hospitality stops along the way are the event’s biggest highlight and most unique feature. “I think the people out there, that’s really the most amazing [part] of this race.”

By day’s end, only two mushers were on their way to Whitehorse. Luc Tweddell left Braeburn at 2:54pm with eight on the line, and midnight finds him 45 miles from the finish. After resting his team an extra four hours in Braeburn, Alaskan rookie Alex Buetow set off for Whitehorse just before 7pm with a team of eight. He was 57 miles from Whitehorse at time of writing.

The remaining mushers are all in Braeburn waiting for their mandatory 8-hour layovers to elapse. Claudia Wickert will be first out, eligible to depart at 11:16pm, followed by Dave Dalton at 12:53am, Rob Cooke an hour later at 1:54am, Riley Dyche 3:30am, and Nathaniel Hamlyn at 4:22am.

Standings as of 11:59pm:

  1. Allen Moore - FINAL
  2. Matt Hall - FINAL
  3. Laura Neese - FINAL
  4. Vebjorn Aishana Reitan - FINAL
  5. Ed Hopkins - FINAL
  6. Tim Pappas - FINAL
  7. Bernhard Schuchert - FINAL
  8. Luc Tweddell
  9. Alex Buetow
  10. Claudia Wickert
  11. Dave Dalton
  12. Rob Cooke
  13. Riley Dyche
  14. Nathaniel Hamlyn
Official Release: