Last night I was all but glued to the Yukon Quest Live Tracker, enjoying som exciting racing out on the Yukon Quest. As you'll recall, Brent Sass had left the Mile 101 checkpoint after four-hours rest just as Allen Moore was arriving. Allen had decided to blow through the checkpoint to give chase.
Allen was able to give Brent a good run for his money, but by the time they had topped Rosebud Summit it was clear that Moore's team didn't have the juice he, or I, thought they had. They slowed considerably after the work of climbing two major mountains back to back. Ultimately, Brent arrived in the Two Rivers checkpoint shortly before 7:00 PM, a solid hour and 20 minutes ahead of Allen.
After an 8 hour mandatory layover, Brent headed toward the finish line at Fairbanks at 2:53 this morning and Allen left as scheduled at 4:32. They are currently mushing their way on trails parallel to the Chena Hot Springs Road through Chena River State Park with just shy of 12 miles between them.
Things were equally exciting for the race for third and fourth place, between Michelle Phillips and Hans Gatt, where Michelle passed Hans at the top of the summit to take the 3rd place position just prior to arriving at Mile 101. Gatt, a four-time champion cleared the summit before walking up to his leaders and lying down beside them for a quick breather.
Gatt got up to give his dogs a snack and started working on his gear. While he was making some adjustments, Phillips passed him. After the two exchanged pleasantries, Gatt hopped back on his sled and started his descent toward Mile 101. After the exchange, journalists at the summit overheard Gatt mumbling, “Worst ever,” as his team pulled away.
Yesterday evening Hans and Michelle were racing head-to-head over Rosebud Summit and were both gaining ground on Moore when they reached the Two Rivers checkpoint, with Gatt arriving less than an hour before Phillips.
As I write (5:45 AM), Sass, Moore and Gatt are en route to the finish line, and Michelle will be leaving the final checkpoint in about 20 minutes. Matt Hall and Paige Drobny are resting at Mile 101 and I expect they will be leaving shortly. The remaining competitors are literally spread out between Central and Eagle as they continue to march toward the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks.