Fairbanks welcomed the Yukon Quest’s final five mushers today as the 34th running of the 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race drew to a close.
Healy, Alaska’s Dave Dalton (bib #13, sponsored by The Pumphouse Restaurant & Saloon) was the first musher of the day, arriving at 14:09 and taking 10th place with a total time of 12 days, 3 hours, 33 minutes. This was Dalton’s 27th Quest, having run it almost annually since 1988.
Eleventh place went to Whitehorse, Yukon’s Rob Cooke (bib #4, sponsored by Mushing Tech), coming across the finish with his 12 Siberians at 18:16, an impressive 10-hour run from Two Rivers. This was Cooke’s 4th Quest, and he finished with a total time of 12 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. Cooke said his dogs were absolutely amazing over Eagle Summit, particularly lead dog, Maddie, who was a standout performer the entire race.
Five-time Quest veteran Brian Wilmshurst (bib #16, sponsored by Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q) of Dawson City, Yukon reached the finish line at 20:03, claiming 12th place in a time of 12 days, 9 hours, 18 minutes. Asked about his strategy for the race Wilmshurst said that for him and his team it was just a fun game of “kick the can” down the trail.
Thirteenth place went to rookie Ben Good (bib #3, sponsored by Husky House) of North Pole, Alaska. Good departed Two Rivers at 14:10 with 9 dogs, hitting the finish line six minutes after midnight for a total time of 12 days, 14 hours, 0 minutes. Good said the biggest challenge for him was often his own head, in that a musher has to stay positive and always be able to adapt to what fate and the trail might throw at you. He also expressed gratitude to his dog Apollo and fellow musher Brian Wilmshurst, “the two big guys who helped me over Eagle Summit.”
And finally, at 01:29, Red Lantern Sébastien Dos Santos Borges (bib #5, sponsored by Bob Eley) for a total time of 12 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes. Dos Santos Borges and his team of 10 left Two Rivers at 09:42 and appeared to have 13th place on lock until they added some miles to their run with a wrong turn 20 miles from the finish, forcing a costly backtrack. Sébastien had a positive take on what turned out to be quite a scenic detour, however, noting that he got to see two moose, a snowy owl, and northern lights. His favourite moments from the race were the many nights camping with his dogs and sleeping amongst them in their straw, and persevering through the blizzard on Rosebud, where he crawled on all fours with his team for some parts to stay on the trail.
In between visits to the finish line, Quest fans turned out in full force for Meet the Mushers at the La Quinta Inn & Suites, where competitors from this year’s race shared stories from the trail, signed autographs, and posed for photos.
The 34th Yukon Quest officially wraps up tomorrow night with the Finish Banquet, hosted by the Fairbanks Westmark Hotel. Due to popular demand, forty additional tickets have just been made available. To purchase call 907-452-7954 or visit the Quest store and office at 550 First Avenue in downtown Fairbanks.
1. Matt Hall
2. Hugh Neff
3. Allen Moore
4. Paige Drobny
5. Ed Hopkins
6. Torsten Kohnert
7. Katherine Keith
8. Jessie Royer
9. Ryne Olson
10. Dave Dalton
11. Rob Cooke
12. Brian Wilmshurst
13. Ben Good
14. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges