The Yukon Quest 300
Let's start with the YQ-300, as that's the shorter race and requires a faster strategy. As I write (2 pm AST), none of the YQ-300 teams have yet arrived at the checkpoint in Carmacks, but many are out on the trail. Ed Hopkins was the first to leave Braeburn, followed only 10 minutes later by Gerry Willowmitzer. These front-runners have nearly 3 hours on Brian Wilmshurt, who lead a group including Eric Porteau, Aliy Zirkle and Matthias Beck. Susie Rogan left by herself at 12:13 pm Yukon time. She was followed 12:59 by Paige Drobny, Yuka Honda and Fabian Schmitz complete the Top-10. All of the YQ-300 Mushers have reached Braeburn, and so far there is no word of anyone scratching.
The Yukon Quest
Six Yukon Quest front-runners are currently in Carmacks. Hugh Neff has been smoking right along, arriving in first position at 10:58 Yukon time, followed almost more than an hour later by Wade Marrs, Hans Gatt and Ken Anderson. Kelly Griffin arrived at 12:44 followed by Johannes Rygh at 14:35. Live Tracking indicates that Dan Kaduce, Michelle Phillips, Mike Ellis and Josh Kadzow are a good 10 miles or more out from the checkpoint.
In her commentary on the Yukon Quest web-site, Gwen Holdman has noted that "the early front runners are not out in front because they are running faster, but because they are taking less rest." That may look good at the moment, but they are going to have to make up some of that rest later, so it is a move that might pay off - or might be very costly later in the race.