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Favorable Trail Conditions Expected as Quest Mushers Head North

Brent Sass in White Mountain during 2016 Iditarod
Brent Sass, just before his first attempt at departing White Mountain in Iditarod 2016. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA/Alaska Public Media.

Despite some alterations to the trail before the start of the 2019 Yukon Quest — prompted by concerns over insufficient snow — it has been good, hard running on the 1,000 mile sled dog race.

That’s according to race marshal Doug Harris:

“Teams are traveling at a good speed; there’s not a lot of dropped dogs. The further north they go towards Dawson, the greater the snow cover’s going to be. So, it’s going to get better. There’s been a little bit of snow, but not enough fresh snow to cause any problems for the mushers.”

Official results have Allen Moore in first position, followed by Hans Gatt and Brent Sass in positions two and three. The top three mushers checked out of Pelly Crossing just before midnight last night.

However, unofficial results currently show Canadian Michelle Phillips in first position, followed by American Paige Drobny. The next stop is Dawson, where Doug Harris says mushers should expect to see more snow. Racers are also required to rest in Dawson for 36 hours. More snow and more rest could have a significant impact on racers’ positions.

As far as road blocks and obstacles, race marshal Doug Harris is optimistic, citing good preparation as part of that:

“Any time you run on the rivers, you’re going to encounter a little bit of choppy ice, but the rangers did an excellent job with that.”

There are no reported scratches or injuries to dogs or mushers at this time. Other notable mentions include veteran Ryne Olson, whom unofficial standings show in position seven, and Kaktovik rookie Martin Reitan. Reitan, who is still resting, checked into Pelly Crossing at 3am PST this morning with a team of ten dogs, a smaller team than the leading racers who have teams of 13 and 14.

Image at top: file photo: Brent Sass in White Mountain, Iditarod 2016. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA/Alaska Public Media.

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