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As Moore Leads Pack Towards Canadian Border, American Summit Looms

A group of sled dogs dashes over the snow in front of a crowd behind white and yellow barriers.

Two mushers have now reached the Eagle checkpoint in this year’s Yukon Quest, with several more not far behind.

According to the leaderboard, 2013 Quest champion Allen Moore checked into Eagle this morning just after 11:00. Race marshal Doug Harris says he spoke with Moore around midday.

His dogs looked good coming in, and he was in good spirits, and he didn’t have anything negative to say about the trail or anything like that, so no, he looked good.

Moore was joined by 42-year-old Paige Drobny at 2:37 this afternoon, when she checked into Eagle in second position. According to the leaderboard, she’s followed by 2017 champion Matt Hall, Quest veteran Laura Neese and Canadian musher Ed Hopkins, who checked out of Circle this morning in that order.

According to the GPS tracker, though, 21-year-old Quest rookie Vebjorn Aisha Reitan has passed Hopkins, with around 20 miles to go until he reaches Eagle.

The Eagle checkpoint is a mandatory four-hour rest stop. It’s about 5 miles from the Canadian border, but mushers won’t cross into Yukon for about another 100 miles. Instead, they head south along a stretch that includes a steep climb to American Summit, a peak of 3420 feet.

For now at least, Harris says the weather’s looking good for mushers heading up:

Thirty below here, and clear skies, so it’s good conditions for mushing. So hopefully it continues and gets everybody over American Summit, before there’s a blow or something like that. But if they can get over American Summit and get on the river system here it should be good.

Harris says trailbreakers have reported some glacier movement on that stretch of trail.

As we know, when you start running on water and creeks and rivers, and that, and glaciers, I mean, they can change in a couple of hours.

So far, weather hasn’t directly caused any major difficulty, but five mushers have scratched. The latest was 51-year-old rookie Christine Roalofs, who scratched Tuesday morning at Circle, citing a personal injury. According to Harris, she had some sled damage at the Mile 101 checkpoint that could have been a factor.

That leaves 20 mushers left on the trail, with over 600 miles to go until the Whitehorse finish for those at the front of the pack.

Tune into KNOM’s 7, 8 and 9 a.m. newscasts tomorrow for continuing updates on the 2018 Yukon Quest.

Image at top: A mushing team leaves the starting chute in Whitehorse, Yukon in 2013. (Photo: Public domain)