Nathaniel Hamlyn, pictured here at the finish line of the 2019 Yukon Quest, won the 2020 Granger Grind with a combined time of 11 hours and seven minutes. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Windy weather helps Granger Grind live up to its name

“It’s called the Granger Grind for a reason”

The Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon hosted the annual Granger Grind on Feb. 29 beginning and ending at the Mount Lorne Community Centre.

This year, eight mushers started the 100-mile (160-kilometre) race with seven reaching the finish line.

Beginning at the Mount Lorne Community Centre, teams raced over McConnell Lake, up the Alligator Lake trail, over Friday Creek to Coal Lake, down to Fish Lake and on to the checkpoint at Sky High Wilderness Ranch via the Bonneville Lakes.

After a mandatory five-hour layover, teams returned to Mount Lorne via a similar route that substituted a loop toward Mary Lake for the Bonneville Lakes section of trail from leg one.

This year’s winner was Nathaniel Hamlyn, who reached the finish line at 5:51 a.m. on March 1 for an overall race time of 11 hours and seven minutes.

It was a close race for second, with Madeline Rubida edging out Ed Hopkins by just a minute. Rubida finished in 11 hours and 46 minutes while Hopkins took 11 hours and 47 minutes.

In fourth place was Fabian Schmitz, followed by Marcelle Fressineau in fifth, Amelie Janin in sixth and red lantern Krys March in seventh.

Jonathan Lucas had been the first musher to reach the checkpoint, arriving eight minutes before Hamlyn, but was the lone scratch in the race.

Race director Adam Robinson said the race went fairly well.

“I think it was pretty well-received,” said Robinson. “Our numbers were a bit low, but no real problems and everybody came back happy. The dogs looked good, so I would say it was a success.”

The trail was in good condition for the start of the race, but overnight wind made for plenty of blowing snow and blown-in trail.

“For the most part the trail ended up setting pretty good, though we had a pretty significant wind so parts of the trail were blown in and it was difficult for people further in the back,” said Robinson. “It definitely wasn’t an easy race in that regard – it’s called the Granger Grind for a reason.”

Robinson said the wind is really what stood out about this year’s race.

“The wind was quite something and I think it’s quite something to be out there in the mountains like that in a wind storm running your dogs, and come in and see everybody smiling,” said Robinson. “I think that’s going to stand out for sure.”

While the trail itself was in good condition, the blown-in snow meant that teams had to run through drifts — essentially breaking a new trail on top of the old one.

“It’s kind of like running through sand,” said Robinson. “It’s slow and it’s tough. Just slow going. Very tiring.”

Although the mushing season is nearing its end, DPSAY has a shorter race in its Twister series tentatively scheduled for March 15. Robinson said some details — like a location — are still being finalized.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

2020 Granger Grind results

1Nathaniel Hamlyn 11:07

2Madeline Rubida 11:46

3Ed Hopkins 11:47

4Fabian Schmitz 12:59

5Marcelle Fressineau 13:22

6Amelie Janin 14:05

7Krys March 17:14

SCRJonathan Lucas

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