As Dallas Seavey was jogging into Nome, his main rival for much of the race, Eureka musher Brent Sass, hadn’t left White Mountain. After barreling down the trail at the front of the pack, Sass’s dogs had had enough.
“It’s in their head. They don’t want to run any more. It was my responsibility to control that. And I obviously didn’t. Sorry, guys.”
Sass had his dogs ready to go right as his 8-hour rest ended in White Mountain. But they wouldn’t budge. For more than a half-hour, he walked up and down the line, trying to coax his leaders into a trot. But to no avail. Eventually, he brought the team back to the checkpoint on the frozen northern bank of the Fish River, re-arranging the piles of straw they’d left not long before.
Nothing like this has happened to Sass in his racing career, and he wasn’t sure what to do.
“It’s a pretty hard pill to swallow at the moment. Such is life. When you push things a little too far, this is what happens.”
He says this protest is the result of running an aggressive race, especially along the last two legs on the way to White Mountain.
“I pushed ‘em too hard. Bottom line. Ya know, last night, I debated about camping before I came into here, and probably should have — well, definitely should have. No ‘probably’ involved in that. I feel horrible about it. It’s totally my fault.”
After he’d seen to his dogs, Sass headed back to a building near the checkpoint. A few hours later, Aliy Zirkle, who came into White Mountain in fourth place, was the third to leave.