All three of our Yukon Quest frontrunners have left the mid-way stop at Dawson City, en route to Whitehorse. I think it safe to say that we should see an interesting game of hounds and hare as the teams make their way over King Solomon's Dome, past the Scroggy Creek dog drop, past the Stepping Stone hospitality stop and into the next checkpoint of Pelly Crossing.
Each musher left at the exact time they were eligible to do so, which is no big surprise. Most mushers say that the race doesn't really begin until Dawson City, and these guys aren't going to waste a single second between here and the finish line. Word is that the upcoming trail is "perfect" for Hans Gatt's team of loping dogs. Lance Mackey's dogs prefer to travel at a mile-eating trot and I'm sure what Hugh Neff's dogs prefer. I can say that last year Hugh proved his teams ability to pick up the pace toward the end of a long race, but Lance has also been known to poor on the coals during the last few stretches when competition is tight.
According to the Live Tracker Hans is nearly over the top of the dome, running at about 5.3 mph. That's actually a pretty good pace for a steep climb, and I suspect the musher is working just as hard as the dogs, either kicking or poling, or perhaps both. Hugh Neff, just entering the creek drainages leading to the dome, is steaming along at nearly 10 mph, perhaps hoping to close the gap while his dogs are still fresh from their lay-over. Lance is only about 3 miles behind Hugh the last time his SPOT unit transmitted data. Although that report showed him running only 2.9 mph, you can bet that was an anomoly, probably recorded while climbing up the steep bank of the river to access the creeks.
Zack Steer and Ken Anderson will be the next mushers to leave Dawson City, scheduled to depart at 2:03 and 2:05 respectively.
Denali Doubles: The Denali Doubles race isn't easy to follow on-line, but reports are that everyone is having a good time, and the teams are all performing very well. Jeff King is updating the race by posting photographs of the analog leader-board on his blog at http://huskyhomestead.blogspot.com. I downloaded the image in order to resize it. Although heavily pixelated, it looks like the team of Kaduce/Bailey were first into McClaren River Lodge on the outbound trail, followed by Osmar/Seipke, Seavey/Seavey and Philips/Hopkins. I can't say with certainty, though. The image is pretty blurry when I try to zoom in on it. I imagine we'll get more accurate updates within the next few hours.
I'll be sticking pretty close to home most of the day today, though I may have to make a trip into town later. My little incident yesterday has left me a bit stiff and sore, and it's probably a good time for me to start working on my income tax return.