Quest gets an ‘overdose of nice’
Scott Chesney/Yukon Quest
Yukon Quest musher Allen Moore is the rabbit.
At least, that’s what the teams chasing him out of Dawson City this afternoon usually dub the frontrunner.
The Alaskan veteran arrived in Dawson in front of the pack just after midnight on Wednesday to win the four ounces of gold awarded to the first musher to reach the halfway mark.
Four-time Quest champ Lance Mackey was less than 20 minutes behind, followed by former Annie Lake musher Hugh Neff, now of Alaska.
After their mandatory 36-hour rest, the trio left Dawson just after lunch today in the same formation.
Not far behind is 25-year-old Alaskan rookie Jake Berkowitz, followed by Quest veteran Brent Sass, the only musher who has managed to keep all 14 of his dogs in the race.
All four frontrunners stand a good chance of winning, said local Quest champ Sebastian Schnuelle. He’s watching the race from the “dark side” this year, running the trail on a snowmachine and giving updates via Facebook.
The trail conditions on the Alaska side this year have been the best Schnuelle has seen “and they did a much better job with the markings,” he said.
The warm weather and clear conditions have made for “a mellow race,” he said.
“There’s been no big drama, thank God.”
Bouncing between the teams has been an emotional rollercoaster for Schnuelle.
The teams at the back are excited and their spirits are up, he said.
“Then you get to the teams that were at the front and fell back, who are a little down.
“Then you get the frontrunners, who are excited.”
You can see these emotions rub off on the dogs, he added.
Carcross musher Maren Bradley scratched in Circle.
“She hit the 300-mile wall, but her dogs looked great” said Schnuelle, who tried to convince her to stay in the race.
That leaves three rookie Yukon mushers still in the running, Dawson City’s Brian Wilmshurst, and Whitehorse area mushers Yuka Honda and Marcelle Fressineau.
With the good weather and smooth trail conditions, Schnuelle expects the first teams to trot into Whitehorse by Tuesday.
“This race is going very smoothly,” he said.
“Last year we had an overdose of ugly. This year we have an overdose of nice.”
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