Michelle Phillips and Brent Sass closing in on final Yukon Quest checkpoint

Michelle Phillips and her team arrive at the Carmacks checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Michelle Phillips makes some adjustments to the supplies on her sled at the Carmacks checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Brent Sass and his team approach the Pelly Crossing checkpoint along the Pelly River on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Brent Sass and his team approach the Pelly Crossing checkpoint along the Pelly River on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Brent Sass and his team approach the Pelly Crossing checkpoint along the Pelly River on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Brent Sass and his team leave the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Cody Strathe and his team round the final bend on the Pelly River before reaching the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Strathe was the third musher to reach the checkpoint, checking in at 4:37 p.m. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Cody Strathe and his team run the final stretch on the Pelly River before reaching the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Strathe was the third musher to reach the checkpoint, checking in at 4:37 p.m. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Cody Strathe and his team make the turn off the Pelly River toward the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Strathe was the third musher to reach the checkpoint, checking in at 4:37 p.m. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Cody Strathe takes the booties off a dog after reaching the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

CARMACKS

Tagish’s Michelle Phillips was the first musher in and out of the Carmacks checkpoint overnight on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race, arriving at 11:51 p.m. and leaving at midnight with the same 11 dogs on the line she rode in with.

“How far behind is Brent?” asked Phillips to no one in particular while she was finishing her adjustments at the checkpoint.

Told he was approximately an hour behind, her reply was a simple, “Alright” and she was off into the night.

Brent Sass, the 2019 Yukon Quest winner, rolled into Carmacks at 12:54 a.m. on Feb. 10 and rolled out at 1:06 a.m. with 11 dogs on the line.

As of 11 a.m. on Feb. 10, tracker data shows Sass leading Phillips by approximately a kilometre with just over 50 km to go before Braeburn and the final mandatory layover.

After spending eight hours in Braeburn, the teams will have just 160 km before one will win this year’s Yukon Quest.

Cody Strathe is currently running third position, having left the Carmacks checkpoint bound for Braeburn at 9:42 a.m. with nine dogs on the line.

Strathe had left Dawson with 13, but arrived in Pelly Crossing with 10 after dropping three — Turkey, Sierra and Volt — at the Scroggie Creek dog drop.

“I had three dogs that had little things coming into Dawson that we massaged and thought we’d cleared up,” said Strathe while in Pelly Crossing. “But it turned out we hadn’t, so I had to carry those dogs into Scroggie on the sled and left them there because that’s a better decision for those dogs.”

Behind Strathe, Allen Moore checked out of Pelly Crossing at 9:29 p.m. on Feb. 9 and is just under 40 km away from Carmacks.

Torsten Kohnert and Ryne Olson are both resting in Pelly Crossing, having checked in at 6:25 a.m. and 7:06 a.m. respectively.

Nora Sjalin, Richie Beattie, Rob Cooke and Pat Noddin are all spread out on the trail between Scroggie Creek and the Stepping Stone hospitality stop.

Red Lantern Olivia Webster left Dawson at 4:45 p.m. on Feb. 9 with 10 dogs and is 58 km from Scroggie Creek.

Mushers Chase Tingle and Dave Dalton both scratched in Dawson City on Feb. 9, citing the welfare of their dogs after both teams were affected by a stomach virus.

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

Yukon Quest

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