The Yukon Quest Race Organization held a press conference with Brent Sass this morning (Tuesday). The musher discussed the accident that led to a serious concussion and took him out of this year’s race. The musher was emotional, but he’s confident about his future mushing career.
Brent Sass says he let his dog team down. “I’ve always had ambitious schedules and always wanted to run a race like this race and we were able to do it.”
But he stands by his decision to press the ‘help’ button on his GPS Spot tracker after he fell from his sled and smacked his head on some lake ice. “No race, no win, nothing is worth sacrificing the health and well-being of myself or my dogs or the credibility of the race and you have to think about that when you’re out there,” says Sass.
The 34-year says he’s recovering well, but he still has a raging headache and numbness in his hands.
He says the accident has forced him to reflect on what he can do differently. “I definitely feel like I wore myself out to the point where I was falling asleep on the back of the sled and could not help it and those are the things I have to change.”
Sass’s race strategy has him blowing through most checkpoints. During this year’s race, he didn’t stop at a single checkpoint unless it was mandatory. Even though he admits he was not well-rested, he says he does not support the addition of more mandatory down-time on the trail. “If we’re scheduled to have to stop at the checkpoints, I can’t run the race that I just ran,” he says. “The only reason that I was competing with Allen Moore and Hugh Neff is because I was on a completely different schedule and I was blowing through and Allen and I were leap-frogging the whole way. It’s amazing for me, it’s amazing for Allen and it’s amazing for the fans, the spectators and the sport. I don’t think by giving more mandatory rest, it helps anything. I think as mushers, we have to do better.”
Sass plans to wear a helmet when he’s mushing for the rest of his life if it’s comfortable and safe in subzero temperatures. He plans to run this year’s Iditarod. That race is a little over two-weeks away.