Veteran mushers Dave Dalton and Chase Tingle scratched from the 2020 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race on Feb. 9 in Dawson City.
Dalton and his team scratched at 1:08 p.m., while Tingle and company scratched at 2:25 p.m.
Both mushers said their teams were dealing with a stomach virus and even after resting in Dawson could not continue.
“They’re recovering,” said Dalton about his dogs. “We’re working on them and they’re doing a great job getting them back.”
This was Dalton’s 30th time running the Yukon Quest and his last — he announced his retirement before the race had even started.
Asked if this change in circumstance would lead him to rethink retirement, he was clear in his immediate response.
“No,” said Dalton.
He said his dogs started to get sick while at Slaven’s Roadhouse, and that the virus slowly spread through his team on the trip into Dawson.
“I was going to scratch when I just pulled into Dawson, but I gave myself some time to rest and think about it,” said Dalton. “We just kind of worked, stayed a little longer in Dawson, tried to get them recovered, but I tried them out (at) about noon and they just didn’t look right. They weren’t eating aggressive like they usually do, so I just decided to pull the plug.”
Tingle said issues with his team started around the same time.
“It was similar (to Dalton),” said Tingle. “They were off for sure as far as eating and everything else.”
He said the hope was they would get better with some rest in Dawson.
“We got into Dawson, we were hoping they could recover but (it’s) still bugging them enough I think it’s in the best interest (of the dogs) to call it good.”
Dalton said he plans to follow the race all the way to the finish, encouraging teams along the way. He also said he’ll be present at the Meet the Mushers event as well as the finish banquet.
“The handlers and I and the vets did the best we could and we tried to get them to come around and finish the race but it just didn’t happen,” said Dalton. “It’s best for the dogs to pull the plug, get some rest and call it a year.”
Asked if there was anything to remember from this year’s race, Dalton said he’s focused on the positive.
“I’m just thinking of the good times right now, not the bad times we’ve had the last run.”
Dalton has started 30 Yukon Quests and finished 23 times — the most in the history of the race. His best finishes were in 2004 and 2008 when he finished third.
Dalton arrived in Dawson City at 8:55 p.m. on Feb. 7 with 12 dogs on the line. Tingle checked in at the Dawson City checkpoint at 12:06 a.m. on Feb. 8 with 12 dogs on the line.
The Yukon Quest field is now down to 11 mushers.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com