Hans Gatt and his team reach the finish line of the 2019 Yukon Quest on Feb. 11 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Gatt finished second in the race. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Local Hans Gatt places second in 2019 Yukon Quest

“After 30 years of mushing, I know when a dog team is running well and they did run well”

Hans Gatt finished the 2019 Yukon Quest in second place, arriving at the finish line with his team of eight dogs at roughly 2:15 p.m. local time.

Gatt is a four-time Quest winner but this was his first 1,000-mile — 1,600-kilometre — race since the 2017 Iditarod.

His team was very young, with his oldest dog being just six and most being two or three years old.

When told that meant he had a good team for next year, he agreed.

“Absolutely,” said Gatt. “I just don’t know who’s going to run it.”

Gatt said he had some trouble with Eagle Summit.

“Somehow, my dogs just decided they were afraid of the wind coming down the mountain and blowing all that snow in our faces,” said Gatt. “They just didn’t want to go up, so I had to walk a couple miles up Eagle Summit ahead of them and my leaders just followed me. When I was out front, they were fine.”

Gatt was in fourth place at Mile 101, but said he started to make ground after a relatively easy trip up Rosebud Summit.

“After 30 years of mushing, I know when a dog team is running well and they did run well,” Gatt said. “I knew I was going to pass people.”

A fan favourite, Gatt said he saw a lot of familiar faces along the way.

“It’s been a while since I was out on the Quest trail and a lot of the people at checkpoints are still the same and they were pretty happy to see me,” he said. “It was pretty cool to see a lot of old friends out there.”

Asked if the Quest was as much fun as he remembered, Gatt paused before answering with a laugh.

“Well, it was OK, but first of all it was cold at the beginning and I can’t deal with the cold very well anymore, so that wasn’t any fun.

“It was fun running that young dog team, no question about it.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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