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Phillips and Sass Race Past Cabin After Cabin Between Circle and Eagle, Alaska

Smiling man wearing winter clothes stands atop a sled passing by, driven by sled dogs along a snowy forest trail.

Mushers in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International sled dog race are currently in-between checkpoints on a portion of trail stretching 160 miles along the Yukon River. Most seem to be moving at a pace of 6 to 9 miles per hour.

The unofficial, but sometimes reliable, GPS race tracker shows Brent Sass is slightly ahead of Michelle Phillips as they close in on the Trout Creek Hospitality stop. Trout Creek is the second marked stop, after Slaven’s Roadhouse, on the way to Eagle, Alaska. 

Phillips had the lead out of Circle yesterday morning around 10am, with 13 of the 14 dogs she started with. According to social media posts from her kennel in Tagish Lake, Phillips elected to drop one of her leaders Indy. Phillips told the Yukon News that she dropped Indy due to a sore back leg, so she now relies on the expertise of her lead dog Kale. She is the only musher in the top four who has dropped a dog so far in this race.

One of Michelle Phillips’ lead dogs, Kale. Photo from Yukon Quest, Whitney McLaren (2020).

The latest update from Quest staff had Phillips still in the lead as of 6pm last night at Slaven’s Roadhouse, 100 miles away from Eagle. But it seems the reigning Quest champion, Brent Sass is bent on re-taking the lead.

Once mushers reach the next hospitality stop at Trout Creek, it’s still another roughly 40 miles before they reach the Eagle checkpoint and another mandatory four-hour rest. Reports indicate there are plenty of private cabins along the way, like the stop at Trout Creek, where residents open up their homes to mushers.

The latest 2020 Quest standings show Michelle Phillips in 1st position, Brent Sass in 2nd, Allen Moore in 3rd, Cody Strathe in 4th, and Torsten Kohnert in 5th; although the GPS tracker indicates a couple things may have changed in that lineup.

Image at top: Brent Sass near the Yukon Quest checkpoint of Circle in 2019. Photo: Julien Schroder, Yukon Quest; used with permission.

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