After running 160 kilometres from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs, Frank Turner called it quits.
The Whitehorse musher, who has run 24 of the 25 races, “just doesn’t have what it takes anymore.”
“You can’t get a major tune-up,” said Turner, walking into Central late Sunday night and shaking hands with veteran Bill Cotter at the checkpoint.
“Some parts just wear out.”
The race has been getting “more and more difficult,” for Turner.
“The short of it is, my limitations do not meet the physical and mental demands of the race,” he said.
“It’s now something that exceeds my capability to take care of myself and my team.”
Turner has nice young dogs and he felt he was too old to do them justice, he said.
“They are young, enthusiastic dogs, and I want them to remain that way.”
Turner was “not feeling really good” on Sunday night.
But he felt he made the right decision.
“I thought lots about it,” he said.
“So it’s not just that I’m tired, or it’s the wind.
“I have a steep learning curve, and maybe I should have reflected more (before entering the Quest again), but I love this race and I really wanted to do it.
“But it’s just not me anymore — I wish it was — but I’ve just got to accept that.”
Turner was the first musher to scratch.
But he wasn’t the first contender out of the race.
Wisconsin rookie Donald Smidt was forced out of the race at the first checkpoint.
The 160-kilometre run, usually done in about 12 hours, took Smidt almost 24.
However, it wasn’t his speed that was the problem.
Smidt was withdrawn for “failing to provide the dog care expected of Yukon Quest mushers,” said race marshal Doug Grilliot.
“There were no dog deaths or massive injuries that require hospitalization,” he added.
But the overall condition of the dog team was not acceptable, said Grilliot.
On Monday morning, all but five teams had made it over Eagle Summit to Central.
Rookies Becca Moore, Andreas Moser and Didier Moggia, as well as veterans Paul Geoffrion and Bruce Milne were still at Mile 101.
“I expect they are waiting it out and are planning to make a convoy,” said Grilliot.
Moggia, who’s from Whitehorse, left 101 Sunday afternoon, but somehow ended up back at the checkpoint.
Frontrunner Dan Kaduce has already arrived in Circle, the next checkpoint, which is 118 kilometres from Central.
Contact Genesee Keevil at firstname.lastname@example.org