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Yukon Quest mushers struggling to keep up as Sass opens a big lead

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 11, 2015

DAWSON CITY, Yukon -- As mushers trickled into Dawson City Tuesday morning, the toll of frigid conditions and a rugged Yukon Quest trail became clear.

The most obvious sign was the yawning gap between race leader Brent Sass, who checked in here at 3:01 p.m. Tuesday, and the rest of the field.

• Second-place musher Allen Moore was more than six hours behind, with third-place Hugh Neff nearly nine hours back.

• Ray Redington Jr., considered one of the top contenders going into the 1,000-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, limped into town in fifth place, more than 19 hours behind Neff. Just eight dogs remained in harness.

• Four-time champion Lance Mackey, racing a team of young dogs, was still en route to Dawson from Pelly Crossing.

• Five mushers, including 1989 champion Jeff King, had scratched.

For the remaining mushers, the second half of the race doesn't look much more encouraging. The trail report includes largely favorable conditions well past Eagle, the first checkpoint in Alaska, but also a long stretch of jumble ice along the Yukon River.

Patches of jumble ice and overflow are sporadically reported throughout the trail, but a bolded section in the report highlights the biggest trouble spot -- a 30-mile-long stretch of jumble ice approaching the Alaska town of Circle. However, it could be worse, the report says.

"This is not the roughest ice we've seen as there is a good snow cover on it and it is broken by an occasional smooth stretch," the report states.

The upcoming trail also includes American Summit, the 3,420-foot-tall obstacle between Dawson and Eagle.

Trail crews worked hard this winter to open the trail, which has been impassible the past two years and forced a reroute down the Yukon River.

Alberta musher Jason Campeau will have a longer rest in Dawson City than he expected after being penalized for replacing a damaged sled.

Campeau broke one of his sled runners just before the Carmacks checkpoint on Sunday, then swapped it out with a different one. Mushers who change out sleds may be subject to penalty, and Race Marshal Doug Grilliot added another eight hours to his race time.

To serve the penalty, Campeau must take a required 32-hour break in Dawson, rather than the 24-hour stop that other mushers have.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter Jeff Richardson contributed to this report.

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