Musher Crystal To cruised across the finish line in Pelly Crossing at 7:31 a.m. on Feb. 5, good for first in the 2024 Yukon Quest’s 250-mile race. Louve Tweddell placed second, arriving in Pelly at 7:49 a.m.
Only two mushers competed in this year’s 250-mile race. Four participants initially registered for the race, although in the days leading up to the Quest’s kick-off, one dropped out and another chose to participate in the 100-mile event instead.
Both mushers racing in the 250-mile contest were racing out of the Yukon.
“I know Louve pretty well. I know she’s got an older team, and I have these fresh puppies that are just, like, eager to go. I knew there was a chance [I’d win], but I wasn’t counting on it,” To told the News following her first-place finish.
Speaking about the trail conditions for the final leg of her race, To said the section between McCabe Creek and Pelly Crossing was the best of the race.
“This was the best part — this trail was awesome. There was actual snow, it wasn’t just ice and I know it was a super fun trail. It felt like it was downhill the whole way. Maybe it was. I don’t actually know,” To said.
To is from the Vancouver area but has been racing in the Yukon for less than a year under the banner of Elevation Sled Dogs, a company owned by musher Aaron Peck, who is also a member of the Yukon Quest’s board of directors.
Prior to the start of this year’s Quest, To spoke with the News, stating her goal for the race was simply to have fun and “survive.” She completed the 250-mile race with a team of yearling dogs, defined as older than 12 months but not older than 24 months.
“I’m taking the yearling team because, you know, we’re all in this together. We all have never done this before. We’re all going to take it easy and make sure we all get through it together. That’s kind of the goal there. I know that this year, the field for the 250 isn’t huge, so that takes a lot of pressure off as well,” To said before the race’s start.
With the 250-mile race now done and dusted, all that remains is for the mushers in the 2024 Quest’s 450-mile race to finish their race. Due to issues on the trail, this year’s 450-mile race has been shortened and teams will not be finishing in Dawson.
Instead, the mushers in the event’s longest race are making the roughly 37-mile run to the hospitality stop at Stepping Stone before turning around and returning to Pelly Crossing.
As of press time, the champion of last year’s Quest, 55-year-old Michelle Phillips, was in the lead, with 20-year-old musher Mayla Hill in pursuit.
The 450-mile race winner is expected back in Pelly Crossing sometime in the early afternoon today.
Contact Matthew Bossons at firstname.lastname@example.org