The Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race has a new leader and the game is very much afoot as Day 8 came to a close.
Hugh Neff left Trout Creek at midnight in third after a surging Matt Hall blew through the hospitality stop shortly after 21:00AKST the previous evening to take the lead. Now in second, Brent Sass eventually caught up to Hall and the two arrived neck-and-neck into Slaven’s Roadhouse at 06:22AKST, where they would rest for 5 hours. Neff would follow at 09:42AKST, staying four hours. Hall secured and maintained a half-hour lead into the next checkpoint of Circle at 19:55, Sass checking in at 20:25AKST. After four hours rest, and just as Neff was arriving, Hall departed Circle just before midnight with 12 dogs. Sass went out in pursuit with a team of 11 at 00:21AKST.
Further down trail, fourth place Allen Moore and fifth place Ed Hopkins left Trout Creek within an hour of each other (04:30AKST and 05:17AKST, respectively), both with six hours rest under their belts. Moore reached Slaven’s shortly after 15:00AKST, where he rested for 8.5 hours. Hopkins joined him there at 1930AKST, and both departed circa 23:30AKST.
The speedy Paige Drobny and Katherine Keith held firm to their spots in sixth and seventh place. Drobny left Eagle at 05:00AKST with her team of 12, while Keith was out a half-hour later with 11. By midnight Drobny had already been bedded down in Slaven’s for an hour and a half, while Keith was still an hour out.
The ever consistent Torsten Kohnert had another solid day of mushing, arriving into Eagle circa 03:00AKST, back on the trail at 09:00AKST, and 36 miles from Slaven’s at day’s end. Birthday girl Ryne Olson’s day began at 03:00AKST after 6 hours rest at the base of American Summit. She would tackle the climb and arrive in Eagle at 09:17AKST. By 15:45AKST she was back in action with 10 dogs, making Trout Creek at 22:00AKST, and still resting there as of midnight.
Jessie Royer continues to move up in the standings, beating Brian Wilmshurst into Eagle by three hours and ending the day 20 miles from Trout Creek. After resting for eight and a half hours Wilmshurst departed Eagle 23:48AKST with a team of 11.
Dave Dalton (16:20) and Rob Cooke (16:44) arrived in Eagle 20 minutes apart (16:20AKST and 16:44AKST, respectively), and at midnight were still resting comfortably.
Gaetan Pierrard pulled out of Clinton Creek 02:30PST, crossed the US/Canada border just prior to 05:00AKST, and achieved Eagle by 21:52AKST to serve his mandatory 4-hour layover.
Travelling pair Ben Good and Sébastien Dos Santos Borges took their leave from Clinton Creek at 05:30PST, did their border crossing shortly before 08:00AKST, and were into the Eagle checkpoint 5 minutes apart at 22:33AKST and 22:38AKST, respectively.
Red Lantern candidate Hank DeBruin completed his 36-hour Dawson layover at 12:13PST, and arrived at Clinton Creek to rest shortly before midnight.
Standings as of 11:59PM:
1. Matt Hall
2. Brent Sass
3. Hugh Neff
4. Allen Moore
5. Ed Hopkins
6. Paige Drobny
7. Katherine Keith
8. Torsten Kohnert
9. Ryne Olson
10. Jessie Royer
11. Brian Wilmshurst
12. Dave Dalton
13. Rob Cooke
14. Gaetan Pierrard
15. Ben Good
16. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges
17. Hank DeBruin