This morning the leading 3 teams in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race are already at the half-way point of Dawson, YT. Here all of the teams are required to take a mandatory 36-hour layover and are permitted the assistance of handlers to care for the dogs and access to the many amenities they've been missing since Saturday - things like a hot shower, a hamburger or sandwich that wasn't stored next to the sour-fish snacks in the sled bag, and even a long sleep on a real mattress. Meanwhile, dogs will be walked several times each day to prevent them from stiffening up, will be fed good, hot meals, massaged and pampered in much the same way that you or I would enjoy at a high-end spa.
Brent Sass won the Dash to Dawson, but Allen
reduced Brent's lead by about half an hour. Meanwhile, Hugh Neff lost
some ground on this leg of their journey. He left Eagle about 2 1/2
hours after Brent, and arrived in Dawson just a bit less than 4 hours
behind the race leader.
Cody Strathe and Matt Hall are both out
of Eagle en route to Dawson in fourth and fifth position. Cody is a
veteran of this race but it's Matt's first attempt. Matt was born and
raised in Eagle, which really is just a tiny spot on the map in the
midst of hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness. His arrival back
to his birthplace caused quite a stir with over half the town showing up
in the middle of the night to celebrate his first attempt at this race.
There is a nice article about that in our local newspaper, at hhttp://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/eagle-checkpoint-a-homecoming-for-rookie-quest-musher-hall/article_b3be620a-8e44-11e3-888e-0017a43b2370.html
Schandelmeier, running a team of young dogs, is out of Eagle and all of
the remaining teams are en route to that checkpoint, including both
remaining teams of Siberian huskies.
Conventional thinking is
that in order to have a chance to win, one must arrive in Dawson within 8
hours of the leading team. In recent years the thinking has changed a
bit. Today one must arrive in Dawson within 4 hours of the leader to
have a shot at the big prize. Based on the data shown on the GPS tracker
page, there is no way that either Cody or Matt can make it to Dawson
within that window, so it's safe to say that our winner will be either
Brent, Allen or Hugh.
When the rejuvenated teams and mushers
leave Dawson they will almost immediately start the climb over King
Solomon's Dome for the 200 mile run to Pelly Crossing. Most of that run
is over seasonal mining roads, so there aren't the extreme slopes such
as those seen on Eagle Summit, but it makes for a lot more miles of
climbing and climbing and climbing, and then trying to control the sled
and team over even more miles of down-grade. There is one official
dog-drop at Scroggie Creek and a hospitality stop, but not much else.
the moment there will be a lull in the race. We may hear some of the
stories of the trail thus far, both the highs and lows. Perhaps we'll
learn how Jerry Joinson totally destroyed his sled between Circle and
Central, or the details of how Hank DeBruin gashed his cheek on the drop
off of Eagle Summit. We'll hear tales of the magic experienced running
dogs over the river under the glowing Northern lights, and who knows
what other things that have occurred thus far on the back side of
Meanwhile, I have dogs to tend, some chores around the
house to accomplish, and Trish and I are planning to hit some trails of
our own this afternoon.