Brent Sass was expected to lead a parade of champions out of Dawson City late Wednesday night, as the leader of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
Sass, the 2015 champion from Eureka, was the first musher to reach the midway point of the 1,000-mile race, which started Saturday in Whitehorse. The finish line in Fairbanks is about 500 miles and a couple of days away.
Mushers must rest their teams for 36 hours in Dawson. Sass was the first to arrive Tuesday.
“I feel great,” he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “I had a plan before the race, and I had no intention of being in here first. But here we are.”
As the first musher to reach the historic gold-mining town, Sass will receive two ounces of gold — with a stipulation. He has to finish the race. If Sass doesn’t reach the finish line, the gold will go to the first musher after him to reach Dawson and make it all the way to Fairbanks.
Michelle Phillips was second to reach Dawson, the race’s final checkpoint in Canada. Then came two more champions — four-time winner Hans Gatt and two-time champion Allen Moore, whose wife Aliy Zirkle recently won the Yukon Quest 300.
Sass was set to leave Dawson at 11:24 p.m. Wednesday. Following will be Phillips (11:52 p.m.), Gatt (1:07 a.m.) and Moore (1:16 a.m.). In fifth place is Paige Drobny, who can leave at 2:07 a.m.