Barring catastrophe, Brent Sass will repeat as champion in this year’s Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, making this his second Quest win in-a-row.
The mushing legend struck out from Braeburn at 10:37 AKST last night and hasn’t looked back. At the time of this update, Sass is less than eleven miles from the finish line in Whitehorse (via the Quest’s unofficial live tracker). Michelle Phillips is a little over twenty miles behind him and will almost certainly finish in second place.
This year’s trail, portions of which have featured blowing snow and plenty of precipitation, has proved challenging for the sport’s top mushers. However, race officials noted a late snowfall between Braeburn and Whitehorse hasn’t slowed Sass or Phillips much.
For Sass, the final stretch of the race required everything he had, both physically and mentally. Speaking to KUAC in Braeburn, he expounded on his strategy of kicking with one foot while ski-poling with one hand:
“The whole way, I never stopped, my foot is something’s wrong with it, it’s a little bit bruised on the bottom of my right foot. I never stopped my ski pole, but my right arm – I got blisters all over from this arm from holding onto the handlebar cause you’re kinda holding onto the handlebar.”– Brent Sass
His efforts are likely to pay off, with the lights of Whitehorse just miles from the snouts of his lead dogs.
Image at top: Brent Sass along Yukon Quest trail. Photo from Brandan Griffis, Yukon Quest, used with permission.