The top rookie in this year’s Yukon Quest crossed the finish line in Fairbanks yesterday. Katherine Keith of Kotzebue arrived just before noon Wednesday (Feb. 15), with ten dogs to claim Rookie of the Year honors. Keith has run the Iditarod three times, but this was her first Yukon Quest.
“It was much more challenging than my expectations to be honest,” Keith said. “So it really lived up to its reputation. I feel a lot tougher having finished.”
Keith shares dogs with fiancé, Iditarod champion, John Baker. While her team is used to cold weather, she said the many summits along the Quest trail were a new challenge.
“This is a tough group of dogs; coming up from Kotzebue where there’s no hills and then coming out here and really learning how to pull up the hills,” Keith said.
Keith was followed across the Quest finish line by Jessie Royer and Ryne Olson in the 8th and 9th place. The last 5 mushers in this year’s Yukon Quest are expected in Fairbanks the 16th and 17th. Gaeton Pierrard scratched from the race yesterday in Central.