Michelle Phillips finishes second in 2020 Yukon Quest

Yukon musher Michelle Phillips poses with her dogs after finishing the Yukon Quest in second place in Whitehorse on Feb. 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Yukon musher Michelle Phillips crosses the Yukon Quest finish line in Whitehorse on Feb. 11 in second place. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Michelle Phillips kisses one of her dogs after crossing the Yukon Quest finish line in Whitehorse on Feb. 11 in second place. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News Tagish’s Michelle Phillips was the second musher to finish the 2020 Yukon Quest on Feb. 11 in Whitehorse. She and her team of 11 dogs finished the race at 6:51 p.m.
Michelle Phillips waves to the crowd at the start of the Yukon Quest at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 1. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Mac and Indy lead the way for Michelle Phillips as she begins the Yukon Quest at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 1. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukoner Michelle Phillips goes through her mandatory check after arriving at the Two Rivers checkpoint on Feb. 1. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips goes through her mandatory checks after arriving at the Circle checkpoint in the earlry hours of Feb. 3 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Tagish’s Michelle Phillips interacts with her dogs at the Dawson City checkpoint on Feb. 6 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Phillips was the second musher to arrive in Dawson, reaching the checkpoint at 6:54 a.m. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips leaves the Dawson City checkpoint for the dog yard on Feb. 6 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips and her team leave Dawson along the Yukon River on Feb. 7 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips arrives at the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Phillips was the first musher to reach the checkpoint, officially checking in at 8:11 a.m. with 12 dogs on the line. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips arrives at the Pelly Crossing checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Michelle Phillips and her team arrive at the Carmacks checkpoint on Feb. 9 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
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 file)
Michelle Phillips gets checked in at the Braeburn checkpoint after arriving with her team in second position on Feb. 10 during the 2020 Yukon Quest. Phillips checked in at 4:14 p.m. for the mandatory eight-hour layover before continuing to the finish in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

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 john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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