Dogs dine while mushers recline

Their rare steaks were brought out by the chef and garnished with red pepper florets. But Larry and Hobo Jim chose to eat them off the Yukon…

Their rare steaks were brought out by the chef and garnished with red pepper florets.

But Larry and Hobo Jim chose to eat them off the Yukon Convention Centre floor.

And they didn’t like the red peppers at all.

The two lead dogs that helped Lance Mackey win his second Yukon Quest were enjoying Saturday’s awards banquet.

Sporting golden harnesses made by Tanzilla Harness Supply, they pranced around the dance floor posing for pictures.

“Larry’s the brains of the outfit,” said Mackey.

“And I put Hobo Jim up in the lead for speed — so he was pretty much there the whole race,” he said with a laugh.

Mackey was awarded four ounces of placer gold at the banquet, for being the first musher into Dawson, and a $30,000 cheque for winning the race.

“I do it for the love of my dogs,” he said.

He thanked his handlers, his family, the race officials, the trailbreakers and fellow musher Sebastian Schnuelle.

Arriving in Whitehorse with no place to keep his team, Mackey thought the dogs would just have to hang out in the dog trailer.

But Schnuelle offered them first class accommodations, complete with chains and straw-filled barrels.

Although not everyone had been so hospitable.

After midnight on Friday night Mackey got a call at the Westmark, where he was staying. Someone was trying to steal his truck and dog trailer.

Luckily, the dogs weren’t in it at the time.

“If they want it, they can have it,” said Mackey, who is notorious for his “high-dollar” junk.

“All my stuff is outdated and in need of being upgraded.”

Unfortunately, $30,000 doesn’t go very far in the world of mushing.

“Let’s see if we can get that purse money up next year,” said Dave Dalton accepting his fourth place award.

“I mean, how many Hummers do we have to sell, guys?”

“I’m confident we are on the right track to increasing the purse,” said Quest council chair Phil Streeter.

“But with the purse it is always two steps forward and two steps back.”

Streeter also addressed the shoddy trail conditions teams faced this year.

A musher’s headlamp is no match for a mountain whiteout, he said.

“And we are going to look into a system of more permanent trail markers for Eagle summit.

“You can never tame the mountain, but you can make the passage over it easier.”

Both Kiara Adams and Saul Turner, who were airlifted off Eagle summit along with four other mushers and five other teams during this year’s race, attended the banquet and thanked their respective sponsors.

“I’d like to give it another shot,” said Turner.

“And I hope when I go over Eagle summit again the winds are still blowing, maybe not quite as much, but pretty close, so I can just give them the finger and go right on through,” he said.

Although mushers had plenty of complaints about the trail and various official decisions made during the race, on Saturday praise for the Quest flowed as freely as the beer.

“Mushers are always whining that we need more money,” said third place finisher William Kleedehn.

“But we are still glad we have the race, as is — if we weren’t happy, we wouldn’t have entered it.”

Schnuelle thanked the organizers for listening to “all the mushers bitching and whining.

“I hope you listen to us a little bit,” he said.

“But I also hope you keep putting it on.”

“This year was a wild ride for a lot of us mushers and for those behind the scenes putting it on,” added fifth place finisher Gerry Willomitzer.

And Regina Wycoff had the longest wild ride of all, finishing with the red lantern after 13 days.

“It was so much fun chasing Wayne (Hall) down the trail,” she said.

“We never saw each other, but we kept thinking about where the other one was and people at the checkpoints were telling me how Wayne was feeling.

“It kept me motivated and Wayne said the same.

“I knew he didn’t want the red lantern, but I gave him a run for his money,” said Wycoff.

“And I learned how to race dogs.”

Wycoff was also awarded the Challenge of the North Award Saturday, for exemplifying the spirit of the Yukon Quest.

“Regina came to the food drop in Fairbanks with all her stuff, but it was not bagged,” said race marshal Mike McCowan.

“She was about 3,000 hours behind and she only had two and a half hours left.”

She asked McCowan what to do.

“Get at it,” he told her.

“And I have to take my hat off to her, cause she got it done,” he said.

Cleaned up and without parkas, the mushers were having trouble recognizing each other during the banquet.

“I saw Kyla (Boivin) in a skirt and didn’t even know who she was at first,” laughed Wycoff.

The festivities lasted well into the night with can-can girls, live music, dancing and some good stories from the trail.

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