The Yukon Quest announced today that a dog has died as race leaders continue to wait out their mandatory 36-hour layovers in Dawson.
In a press release this morning, race marshal Doug Harris said the dog, named Bobby, was part of Hugh Neff’s team.
Neff had previously confirmed his intention to withdraw from the race once he got to Dawson.
Head veterinarian Dr. Christina Hansen said a necropsy will be conducted. Quest organizers said more information will be released as it becomes available. This is the third year in a row that a dog has died during the Quest.
American Allen Moore continues to lead the race after leaving Dawson this morning.
Moore arrived in Dawson at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 7.
Paige Drobny arrived in second position at 4:21 a.m. on Feb. 8, followed by 2017 winner Matt Hall just less than an hour later.
Canadian Ed Hopkins was the fourth musher into Dawson at 8:28 a.m.
Vebjorn Aishana Reitan and Laura Neese both arrived later that morning.
Tim Pappas, Torsten Kohnert, Riley Dyche, Claudia Wickert, Nathaniel Hamlyn, Bernhard Schuchert, Luc Tweddell and Alex Buetow have all since reached Dawson.
As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 9, Rob Cooke is just two miles out from Dawson. Dave Dalton is currently on the trail between Clinton Creek and Dawson with 20 miles to go before the checkpoint.
Moore said he didn’t set out to have a lead at this point in the race.
“I wasn’t planning on getting in the lead,” said Moore. “Actually I was being more conservative than I had been in the past and it just worked out that way.”
The lead meant Moore could rest his team more, and in turn has kept his speed up.
“With a nine-hour lead, I’m going to lean more towards the conservative side and rest a little bit more here and there,” said Moore. That way his team should have enough energy and speed to outrun any teams that catch up.
“If they do catch up to me, they have to do a lot and put a lot on their dogs. Their speed should go way down if they do that.”
Moore said 13 of his 14 dogs are lead dogs and that he had multiple dogs running out front in the first half.
He does have one complication though — one of his dogs, a female named Junior, is in heat.
“I’ve got to keep her way back and I’ve got to keep the other two females around her,” said Moore. “She’s a really good leader. She would be up front right now if she wasn’t in heat.”
Moore said the team is doing fine and he has no plans to drop Junior.
As far as conditions go, Moore said the temperature was a factor in the first half and will be for the rest of the race.
“Temperature is really a huge factor, especially on the last half of the race from here to Pelly,” said Moore. “We have 210 miles to go — which is a long stretch — and a lot of it, you have to camp out.”
Overall, Moore said he’s trying to stay in the moment.
“We’re just trying to focus on each day and if we can do that, I think good things will happen.”
Three other mushers have scratched from the race since Moore crossed the border into Canada, dropping the field down to just 16.
Canadian Jason Campeau activated the help button on his tracking device at 1:28 p.m. on Feb. 7 while on the trail 45 miles from Eagle.
A press release from the Yukon Quest said that Campeau suffered a medical issue and that an air rescue crew was sent to airlift Campeau to hospital in Fairbanks.
Rookie Jennifer Campeau scratched from the race in Eagle on Feb. 8 due to personal reasons.
Race officials initially reported that Severin Cathry activated the help button on his tracking device Feb. 8 and was found healthy and safe by race crew. In a later news release, Quest officials said “there was an internal miscommunication regarding the details leading to the withdrawl of Severin Cathry.”
“In a post-incident review due to Cathry’s current performance on the trail, Race Marshal Doug Harris contacted Trackleaders to confirm the call for assistance and was informed no SOS was ever sent by Cathry.
“Due to these findings, Cathry remains a competitor in the race.”
Officials said Cathry does not know about the confusion.
This story was updated at 6:20 p.m. Feb. 9.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com