Although Brent Sass and Michelle Phillips finished first and second in the 2020 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race on Feb. 11, another half dozens mushers have since reached the finish line in Whitehorse to complete the 1,600-kilometre race from Fairbanks, Alaska.
Veteran musher Cody Strathe of Cantwell, Alaska, finished third in this year’s race when he crossed the finish line at 7:35 a.m. on Feb. 12 with nine dogs on the line.
Three-time winner Allen Moore was fourth this year, crossing the finish at 1:20 p.m. on Feb. 12 with 12 dogs on the line.
Strathe and Moore were within a half an hour of each other in Dawson City, and Moore told media in Carmacks that he planned to stay out of sight and let Strathe worry about where and when he may appear to try for a pass.
Strathe said he took the lead near Pelly Crossing and tried to keep his position from there.
“I guess around Pelly I started to try to stay ahead of him,” said Strathe. “I don’t know where he is right now.”
“It made me nervous. I definitely was looking over my shoulder the whole way in here,” said Strathe. “I’ve run the Copper Basin three years and suddenly he’d come running his team around the corner and he’d have two ski poles on the back of that sled and look like this crazy spider with all these things flailing around.”
Strathe was led in by dogs Daisy and Neko.
“It’s mixed emotions,” said Strathe about finishing the race. “It’s exciting to get here but then you realize your journey is kind of over and you have to go back to real life. That’s not nearly as exciting.”
Swedish veteran musher Torsten Kohnert was fifth this year after he finished the race at 9:01 p.m. on Feb. 12 with 11 dogs on the line.
Ryne Olson of Two Rivers, Alaska, finished the Yukon Quest in sixth position with 10 dogs on the line. She crossed the line in Whitehorse at 2:59 a.m. on Feb 13 – her fourth Quest finish.
Nora Sjalin is this year’s rookie of the year after finishing seventh on Feb. 13 at 7:59 p.m. with 10 dogs on the line.
“I had so much fun. It was really, really fun,” said Sjalin. “If I do it again, I just need to be faster so I can see (something) because I’ve been mushing mostly in the dark.”
She said the last few stretches of trail were very snowy and that there was water on the rivers.
“It was a lot of snow and it felt like all of it was on the trail,” said Sjalin. “The dogs did very good. I’m very impressed with how happy they’ve been going through all of that.”
Veteran musher Richie Beattie of Two Rivers, Alaska, finished eighth at 2:17 a.m. on Feb. 14 with nine dogs on the line.
Three mushers remain on the trail in this year’s race as of 9 a.m. on Feb. 14.
Mount Lorne’s Rob Cooke and his 14 Siberian Huskies left the final checkpoint in Braeburn for the finish at 3:34 a.m. on Feb. 14.
Canadian rookie Pat Noddin left shortly after at 3:55 a.m. with 10 dogs on the line.
Red Lantern Olivia Webster, granddaughter of race founder LeRoy Shank, is on the trail between Carmacks and Braeburn, approximately 33 km from the final checkpoint.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com