The mad dash to the finish is on and last year’s Yukon Quest champion Brent Sass has a commanding lead on 2nd position Michelle Phillips in the 2020 race.

Sass completed his mandatory 8-hour layover in Braeburn, the final checkpoint on the Quest trail, and began racing again after 10:30pm AKST last night. Phillips was about 45 minutes behind him out of Braeburn. Both departed the last stop with 11 dogs on the line.

Since leaving Braeburn last night, Sass has maintained his lead, not giving much ground at all to Phillips. The Canadian veteran, Phillips continued to chase him until about 6am this morning when she stopped about 60 miles outside of Whitehorse. The GPS tracker shows that after she stopped for about an hour and a half, Phillips is on the move again, 20 miles behind Sass.

The final checkpoint in the Yukon Quest, Braeburn. Photo from Whitney McLaren, Yukon Quest, used with permission.

There could be a few different reasons for Phillips’ decision to stop at this point in the race, such as poor weather conditions, maybe her team needed more rest, or perhaps something with her own mentality at this point. But we won’t speculate on that until Phillips shares more information at the finish line in Whitehorse.

Meanwhile, 3rd position Cody Strathe is the only other musher to reach Braeburn as of this update. He checked in around 6:45am AKST this morning with nine dogs and will be able to leave by 3pm AKST. The next team expected to arrive into that last checkpoint is Allen Moore, who is still ten miles away at this point.

As the leaders push through the final stretch of the 1,000-mile Quest, we could see a winner around 12pm this afternoon.

Image at top: Michelle Phillips at Braeburn in the 2020 Yukon Quest. Photo from Chance McLaren, Yukon Quest, used with permission.