Three-time Yukon Quest champion Allen Moore maintains the lead in this year’s race, as he was first out of Pelly Crossing last night at 9:37pm (PST). However, unofficially, former Quest winner Brent Sass has barreled through Scroggie Creek (a dog drop) and is about 100 miles from Dawson City.
According to the leaderboard, Sass spent only 13 minutes at Pelly Crossing, while defending champ Moore took just over 20 minutes to leave the checkpoint. Hans Gatt of Whitehorse, who is currently listed in second position, officially, spent almost six hours at Pelly. The leaderboard shows Paige Drobny in fourth, while Michelle Phillips rounds out the top five.
All of the front runners have at least 13 dogs, including Denis Tremblay, whom the unofficial GPS tracker shows in the top five. Most of those same mushers started the race with about ten dogs and are now adding to their teams, not dropping. Race judge Amy Wright explains why the Quest allowed mushers to add dogs at Carmacks and Pelly Crossing:
“This was due to the fact that trail conditions were so horrendous they actually had to cut a big chunk of the race out, and they wanted people, especially rookies, to determine how they wanted to run — eight dogs, ten dogs, 12 dogs, their choice — and get them and their dogs safely from place to place. The trail is remarkably better as it goes, so people are adding dogs in.”
Wright says the reasons for a team to add dogs are as numerous as the mushers themselves.
“It could be as much as you have a leader that is exceptionally fast, and you want to add it in between specific places, or you want to save a dog. Could also be as easy as your dog is at the end of their heat cycle and the less time they’re in the team, the less issues. There’s just lots of reasons.”
According to past race updates and Quest staff, trail conditions look good heading into Dawson City. Once mushers reach that almost mid-way checkpoint in the race, they will have a mandatory 36-hour layover waiting for them.
To see how the leaderboard shakes up between now and then, tune in to KNOM Radio tomorrow morning at 8am for the next 2019 Yukon Quest race update, on 780 AM / 96.1 FM.
Image at top: Near Pelly Crossing during Yukon Quest 2019. Photo: Julien Schroder, Yukon Quest; used with permission.