Well I’m up. 3:15 am AKST. I got 2.5 hours of sleep and am ready for the long haul. Mike Ellis and I are about to hit the road to Dawson City. Mike will be helping Brent Sass at Dawson and I guess I’ll give me lovely wife a hand. We have our own little Quest ahead of with about 950 miles of driving to do in the next day. Check out this awesome map Melinda Shore made of the handler route for the Quest.
So looking at what is happening in the race. At 3:30 am AKST it appears that the Quest crew has not updated the standings in a while. The trackers show Hugh and Brent moving on towards Stepping Stone. With Matt at Pelly Crossing and Allen and Ed closing in on Pelly. Paige and Katherine have also left McCabe and are moving towards Pelly. From my quick tracker look, it appears that Brent was a packing magician which is not surprising at all. I build his sleds and I never know how he fits anything in that little sled, but he gets it done. I think this is where the Brent and Hugh showdown will happen. Brent has more rest and a team that is very strong in the hills. He has shown us time and again that he can run long with success when his team is well rested. We have 205-210 mile stretch here with some of the biggest hills in dog mushing. The Black Hills are no joke for a tired dog team and the almost 25 mile uphill climb of King Solomons Dome can crush a tired dog team. This section can be run in several ways. Since Hugh rested at Pelly, I imagine he’ll go through Stepping Stone. Will he attempt two – one hundred mile runs to Dawson? Or will he be more conservative and take three 70 mile runs? Scroggie creek is 105 miles into the run. Will he stop there for a warm cabin and a veterinarians advice or camp on the trail? Brent could go a couple ways. He set himself up for one more short camp at Stepping Stone which is 30 miles down the trail. This would leave him roughly two 80ish mile runs into Dawson.. Very doable with his team. Or he could do 70 to Scroggie and 100 into Dawson. What will Matt, Ed, and Allen do? This is the place for teams to make it or brake it. Farther back in the pack you will see teams be conservative and do four 50 mile runs. This will allow them the opportunity to stay at Scroggie.. Some may vary a bit to hit both Stepping Stone and Scroggie. The front runners can’t afford the luxury of a heated cabin on this section. It is go time.
As for Paige and Katherine. They have both set themselves up nice to get packed in Pelly and move on towards Scroggie. I received an update from Megan and Chris as Paige left McCabe and she has had the opportunity to dry out completely and while very tired, was happy. The dogs appeared more than happy and un-phased by what they had done so far and she left with a full team charging into the night. If the dogs do indeed look as they were reported to look.. then it is Paige’s plan to turn up the heat on the next section and take a less conservative route. Hopefully she can pick off some of these boys in front of her before Dawson. Stay tuned. I’ll be on the road for the next 16 hours or so, will try to get some updates along the way, but I might not be able to post anything.
Kinco Glove has generously supplied the gloves for the past two years of racing. Thanks for keeping our hands warm!!!!