Quest teams set out from Dawson with Sass in the lead

The Yukon Quest is half over, but the race has only just begun, according to the frontrunners. Eureka, Alaska's Brent Sass reached Dawson City - the 1,000-mile sled dog race's halfway point - late Tuesday evening.

The Yukon Quest is half over, but the race has only just begun, according to the frontrunners.

Eureka, Alaska’s Brent Sass reached Dawson City – the 1,000-mile sled dog race’s halfway point – late Tuesday evening. Allen Moore, the defending champ from Two Rivers, Alaska, was just two-and-a-half hours behind.

Hugh Neff, the 2012 Quest winner, was just an hour-and-a-half behind Moore.

“This race is just about to get going. Once you hit Dawson, that’s the place you start really racing,” said Sass.

“Up until now we’re just trying to hold our dog team together, keep them healthy, and I’m really glad I’ve been able to do that and get here first. That’s a first for me after seven Quests – this is my eighth Quest. I’m in a very good position right now.”

“I’m looking forward to getting to the finish line, but there’s a lot that’s going to go on between here and there,” said Moore. “Hopefully it’s all positive.”

Sass set out from Dawson with a two-plus hour lead Thursday morning. He and Moore traded the lead early in the race until after Slaven’s Cabin, where Sass began to grow a lead.

“I’ve been running on a very different schedule,” said Sass. “I’ve been blowing through all the checkpoints. I camp before or after the checkpoints.

“I’d go through a checkpoint and camp and those guys would be back at the checkpoint and they would pass me. Then I’d come to the next checkpoint and go ahead.”

“He’s been resting in different places than I have – actually, he hasn’t been resting much,” said Moore. “We have been leapfrogging and probably will be in the future.”

Sass placed third in last year’s Quest behind Moore and Neff and has finished in the top-10 every year since 2008.

As the first to Dawson, Sass will pocket four ounces of gold worth about $5,000, if he finishes the race in Whitehorse.

Moore arrived in the Klondike town in second place last year as well before winning the race with a record time of eight days, 18 hours, 27 minutes. This year’s course is even shorter than last year.

“With the trails being as fast as they are, we’re going a lot faster,” said Moore. “We’re a day earlier (into Dawson) than normal, at least.

“We’ve been staying on our schedule,” he added. “The trail has been different of course, but we still stuck to our schedule trying to get the most rest for our dogs in the first half and we achieved that.

“I’m pretty happy with the dogs coming into here. They are well hydrated, they’re perky and they have a lot of energy still. Hopefully that’s going to pay off at the end of the race. That’s what I’m gambling on.”

Ester, Alaska’s Cody Strathe was fourth into Dawson just before 7 p.m. Wednesday. Two River’s Matt Hall, the race’s leading rookie, followed in just after midnight that night to begin his mandatory 36-hour layover in the former capital.

Dawson City’s Brian Wilmshurst is the only Yukon musher left in the Quest after Whitehorse’s Normand Casavant and Dawson’s Jean-Denis Britten scratched from the race on Sunday and Monday respectively. (Fairbanks, Alaska’s Mike Ellis was the third to scratch, dropping the field to 15 teams.)

Wilmshurst moved from 14th up to 11th over Wednesday night and was the leading Canadian in the race at press time on Thursday.

“It’s been a very good first half of the race,” said Sass. “My dogs are looking strong, healthy and happy. Things have gone pretty smoothly. I’ve been able to run my own race, which is probably the most important thing.

“My biggest plan is to just to keep running my team and not worry about my competition too much,” he added. “I have a little bit of a lead here, which helps me to do that.

“If I can continue running my dogs at my schedule, I think that’ll be my best bet.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read