Thomas Tetz didn’t mean to win the Quest 300.
The Carcross musher was running a team of Hans Gatt’s Iditarod dogs, and was told not to wear them out.
“Hans told me not to run them more than eight hours,” said Tetz.
“But I didn’t even run them more than five, until this last stretch.”
Tetz left Stepping Stone at least two hours behind frontrunners Jeremie Matrishon and Roland Waldispuel.
Several hours out of Stepping Stone, he passed Matrishon. “It looked like he was camping, and I said, ‘hi,’ as I went by,” said Tetz.
Matrishon had been in the lead for most of the race.
And after passing him, Tetz was pretty sure the race was his.
“I passed Jeremie twice before, and I knew Hans had faster dogs,” he said.
But Tetz didn’t catch Waldispuel until eight kilometres from the finish line.
And he only won the race by seven minutes.
“I was thinking about (winning) and suddenly whoosh came Thomas from behind,” said Waldispuel, in Pelly.
“He just went by and, in like 10 minutes, I couldn’t see him anymore.”
A self-described Swiss tourist, Waldispuel doesn’t even own a dog.
“I have two cats,” he said.
Over here on vacation, he was running one of Sebastian Schnuelle’s Iditarod teams to help with training.
Tetz won $1,450.
But it isn’t enough.
“I’m expensive,” said Tetz, smiling. “I’m going to send Hans a big bill.”
Tetz, hoping for climbing opportunities in South America, didn’t know he was racing the 300 until late fall.
And he hadn’t run the complete team until race day.
“I didn’t even know all their names,” he said.
Tetz, who has run multiple Quests and an Iditarod, thought Gatt’s dogs were ridiculously fast.
“They are just nuts. I don’t know if I can control it all the time, their drive is unbelievable.”
Leaving Braeburn, a wolf was running down the trail in front of the team, and when Tetz looked on the GPS, he clocked them at 26 kilometres an hour.
“They have no business going that fast,” he said.
After the 300 banquet in Pelly, Tetz drove to Dawson and has joined the crew of Quest officials for the remainder of the race.