A fast pace at the front of the pack has Yukon Quest teams spread out over nearly 200 miles of trail.
Cody Strathe who’s running in 4th place isn’t expected into Dawson City until the early evening, roughly 18 hours after the first team arrived at the half way point.
This year’s Yukon Quest won’t break any official records because of trail reroutes, but the pace itself is definitely one for the books.
The top three teams broke away from the rest of the pack early in this year’s Yukon Quest, but Race Marshall Doug Grilliot says he expected that.
“But a lot of that has to do with the number in the field so it’s a little easier to get spreads like we’re seeing,” he said.
Grilliot says the trailbreakers and the race logistics team have responded well to the fast-moving front of the pack, but Race Judge Rob Cooke says it has been a challenge to stay ahead.
“The only real concern is that because the front-runners are moving pretty fast, you’re having to spread out officials, vets, the Marshall and the judges,” he said.
Cooke ran the Quest as a rookie last year. He was impressed when both Brent Sass and Allen Moore arrived in Dawson with 13 of their 14 starting dogs on the line.
“For me being a back-of-the-pack musher to actually come forward and see these front three guys has been something else… just the level of motivation how happy the dogs are, what excellent condition they’re in is unbelievable,” Cooke said.
Head Veterinarian Kathleen McGill agrees.
Temperatures have dropped to 20 below and are forecast to remain there for the next week or so.
Other teams arriving in Dawson over the next few days may not include 13 dogs, but McGill says with the 36-hour mandatory layover, they will all have plenty of time to rest and recover.