Twenty-six mushers crossed the Yukon Quest start line in downtown Whitehorse this weekend and are now racing toward Fairbanks in the 30th annual running of 1,000-mile sled-dog race.
As of 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Hugh Neff, of Tok, was in the lead, headed toward Pelly Crossing in Canada at about 8 mph. Neff said earlier, "I know for a fact that I don't have the best team," and that it's "going to be tough if these guys have a good run to be competitive." But so far he is holding his own.
In second place is Alan Moore, from Two Rivers, cruising at around 10 mph. In 2012, Moore took second place, finishing just 26 seconds behind champion Neff in the closest finish in Yukon Quest history.
Jake Berkowitz is not far behind in third place. "After grabbing items from his food drop bags and giving his team a treat, Berkowitz blew through Carmacks towards McCabe Creek," Quest officials tweeted at about 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
Several mushers are taking their mandatory layovers at the Carmacks Checkpoint, including Susan Rogan, Brent Sass and Lance Mackey.
Many race fans are watching Mackey's team, a four-time Quest champion from 2005-08 whose performance has faltered somewhat in recent years. But as one article points out, "A recent win in the new Top of the World 350 race two months ago indicates that Mackey has the dogs to excel. Whether or not a true comeback -- his Fairbanks kennel is called the Comeback Kennel -- is in the offing remains to be seen."
The Yukon Quest was founded in 1983. Mushers cross frozen rivers and four mountain summits on the race between Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory and Fairbanks, Alaska. Following a historical Gold Rush and mail delivery routes run by dog sleds in the early 1900s, the race has nine checkpoints and lasts from 10 to 16 days, until the last musher crosses the finish line, according to the Quest's website. Mushers carry with them on their sleds mandatory equipment, food and supplies, and they can't accept assistance save at the half-way point in Dawson City. The first 15 mushers to finish split the purse.
Tustumena 200 results
The 29th annual Tustumena 200 sled dog race, which runs on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, from the Sterling Highway to Homer, also got on its way Saturday.
As of Sunday evening, Mitch Seavey had finished in first place, Ray Redington in second, and Jeff King in third place, according to the Tustumena 200's Facebook page.