Quest Leaders Close in On Alaska-Yukon Border, Sass Out in Front
*9am Update: Not much has changed within the last hour at the top of the 2020 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race as the top mushers crest 400 miles in and head towards Dawson City.
Brent Sass is holding onto first position, with the GPS saying he’s about 10 miles ahead of second position and Michelle Phillips. Of the four mushers that have left Eagle, the two at the top have the fewest dogs, both with 12 Alaskan Huskies pulling their sleds.
Fifth and sixth positions Ryne Olson and Torsten Kohnert respectively are both currently sitting in the Eagle checkpoint after arriving within an hour of each other, while the rest of the field is catching up to them from Circle City.
That field includes current red lantern, rookie Olivia Webster, whose tracker is indicating she is 33 miles from Trout Creek at the time of this report. With two scratches so far in this race from Denis Tremblay and Jason Campeau, Webster continues to press on, looking for her first Yukon Quest finish.
*Written by Joe Coleman
*Original story: The top four mushers in this year’s Yukon Quest spent the night in the last checkpoint on the Alaskan side of the trail. Before 6am this morning, Brent Sass, Michelle Phillips, Cody Strathe, and Allen Moore had all left Eagle on their way to the Alaska-Yukon border.
After covering almost 400 miles of trail thus far in the race, teams are starting to show some wear and tear. Sass, currently in 1st position, elected to drop two dogs at Slaven’s Roadhouse yesterday. When he arrived into Eagle, Alaska last night at 7:47pm he only had 12 dogs on the line. According to the Yukon Quest, Sass told race staff that he did a bunch of trail-breaking on that 160 mile stretch from Circle to Eagle.
One hour later, 2nd position Phillips arrived at the checkpoint to take her mandatory four-hour layover. Almost exactly another hour later at 9:45pm, Strathe reached Eagle in third position. But it took a little bit longer for 4th position Moore to join the crew, he checked in 15 minutes after midnight this morning.
So far only two other mushers have reached Eagle, Ryne Olson checked in just before 4am this morning and Torsten Kohnert followed her in at 4:40am in sixth position.
After almost six hours of “rest” Sass left Eagle first at 1:40am to begin the ascent up the American Summit, the shortest summit on the Yukon Quest at roughly 3,400 feet. Phillips stayed at the final Alaskan checkpoint for six hours as well, before dropping another dog and taking off after Sass. Comparatively, Strathe rested in Eagle for almost eight hours before getting back on the trail, while Moore took a quick 5 and 1/2, checking out ten minutes behind Strathe.
According to the GPS tracker, those two mushers continue to be neck and neck. During KNOM’s pre-race interview with Allen Moore, Moore said he is well prepared for the summits along the trail. This stretch along the American Summit could be where Moore takes 3rd position from Strathe.
The top four mushers are currently racing up the American Summit as they cover 150 miles of trail before reaching the first official checkpoint on the Yukon side, Dawson City.
Image at top: Dog team at Eagle, Alaska during Yukon Quest 2019. Photo from Whitney McLaren, Yukon Quest, used with permission.