Tagish’s Michelle Phillips crossed the finish line in Whitehorse at 6:51 p.m. with 11 dogs on the line to place second in the 2020 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race on Feb. 11.
Phillips finished second to Brent Sass, who won his third Quest.
Sass chose to run the final 160 kilometres straight through from the Braeburn checkpoint to the finish, while Phillips took a break.
“It was too long of a run and the conditions were too slow,” said Phillips. “I just had to do what was right for my dogs, so that’s what I did.”
Phillips’ dogs all were eager to tuck into the snacks provided by her husband Ed Hopkins at the finish and seemed ready to continue running at a moment’s notice.
“I just knew with the conditions and the run before I wasn’t going to run it straight through. That was it, bottom line,” said Phillips. “For my team, I needed to stop, so that was it. I was happy with that.”
She said she knew leaving Braeburn that Sass might make the final leg in one run.
“Anything can happen in a race and Brent might have decided to stop,” said Phillips. “I didn’t think he would, but he might have.”
For finishing second, Phillips will win US$13,520.
This was the eighth time running the race for Phillips, who finished fourth last year after not racing the Quest since 2011.
Second place is a new personal best for Phillips. She also noted her best result is now better than Hopkins’ best result of third in 2015.
This is the fourth time Phillips has finished in the top five and her seventh top 10 finish. Her only result outside the top 10 was in 2011 when she scratched from the race.
Phillips won the Veterinarians’ Choice Award in 2009.
She is scheduled to race in the 2020 Iditarod in March.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org