Quest leaders on pause in Dawson City

Yukon Quest mushers are getting an extended stay in Dawson City.

Dogs and their drivers will spend 40 hours in the historic gold mining town, four more than the usual 36.

A longer mandatory layover was necessitated by the need to get all race personnel, including veterinarians and officials, to race checkpoints, race marshal Doug Grilliot said when making the announcement Tuesday night.

The need to create a detour around American Summit combined with the pace of the frontrunners means the race requires more time to get the necessary support teams in place in Eagle. Eagle is the checkpoint after Dawson City -- the first stop once the race enters Alaska

Without American Summit, the route from Dawson to Eagle is reduced from about 150 miles to about 100 miles. Mushers will get to Eagle more quickly this year than they do when the 3,420-foot summit stands in their way.

The extended layover means race leader Hugh Neff of Tok will leave Dawson City at 4:10 a.m. AST Thursday. Two hours later, at 6:09 a.m., Allen Moore will give chase.

Neff and Moore led the way into Dawson on Tuesday, just as they led the way to the finish line last year.

Neff is the defending champion and Moore is the hungry pursuer. Moore might have more motivation than most to catch Neff and claim the Quest title -- a year ago, Neff chased him down on the homestretch to win by 26 seconds after 1,000 miles of racing.

Seven hours behind Neff, in third place, is Big Lake's Jake Berkowitz.

"We're not happy with third place," Berkowitz told reporters when he and his team of 14 dogs arrived in Dawson City. "The dogs are barking. They're not happy with third place either."

Arriving in fourth place was Brent Sass of Eureka, who had 11 dogs in harness and one in the basket, according to a report on the Quest website. The dog in the basket was getting a break from running and was expected to be back in harness when Sass returns to the trail Thursday.

While 10 mushers had reached Dawson by Wednesday afternoon, four-time champion Lance Mackey was not among them.

Mackey spent nearly 15 hours at Scroggie Creek, a checkpoint a little more than 350 miles into the 950-mile race, which started Saturday in Whitehorse. He left for the 99-mile to Dawson at 6:45 a.m. AST Thursday.

Mackey dropped two dogs in Scroggie Creek and is down to seven -- half the number he started with. Mushers must have six dogs in harness at the finish line or they are disqualified.

On Wednesday afternoon, Kelley Griffin of Wasilla scratched. She's the second musher to drop out of the race, joining Ed Abrahamson of Fairbanks.

Twenty-six mushers started the race.


Arrival times in Dawson City

Tuesday -- 1) Hugh Neff (13 dogs) 12:10 p.m. AST; 2) Allen Moore (13) 2:09 p.m.; 3) Jake Berkowitz (14) 7:10 p.m.; 4) Brent Sass (12), 9:37 p.m. Wednesday -- 5) Scott Smith (13) 2:25 a.m.; 6) Markus Ingebretsen (14) 7:38 a.m.; 7) Abbie West (12) 9:41 a.m.; 8) Susan Rogan (12) 11:27 a.m.; 9) Normand Casavant (10) 1:02 p.m.; 10) Dan Kaduce (12) 1:12 p.m.; 11) David Dalton (12) 2:43 p.m.; 12) Ed Hopkins (13) 3:18 p.m.; 13) Crispin Studer (12) 4:36 p.m.; 14) Denis Tremblay (13) 4:51 p.m.; 15) Cody Strathe (10) 5:25 p.m.; 16) Darrin Lee (13) 9:40 p.m.

Scratched -- Kelley Griffin, Ed Abrahamson.



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