Another early start to the day as more mushers completed their 36-hour Dawson layover and departed for Pelly Crossing in the wee hours of the morning. Yuka Honda, Seth Barnes, Mike Ellis, and Dave Dalton all left in the pre-dawn hours.
With the next departure not scheduled until early evening, all eyes were glued to the gamesmanship going on between frontrunners Brent Sass, Allen Moore, and Hugh Neff, in what is quickly becoming a 500-mile sprint to the finish. Seldom separated by more than 10 miles, a stop to rest by whoever was leading would inevitably result in a new name claiming top spot, while Matt Hall’s brisk pace saw him close significant ground on the breakaway pack. By 2:30 this afternoon both Moore and Neff had reached Pelly, and Hall snuck across the checkpoint line one minute ahead of Sass. Stopping just long enough to grab supplies before heading back out on the trail, Sass revealed he almost lost his team in the vicinity of Scroggie Creek after breaking his handlebar, barely managing to grab hold of his drag pad at the last second by executing a miraculous “superman dive.” He pulled out of the yard shortly after 4pm with a team of 11. After four hours of rest Moore left with 13 dogs, Neff rested just over an hour and departed with 10, and Hall resumed his race after three and a half hours also fielding a 10-dog team.
Back at the West Dawson dog yard 19 year-old Laura Neese said she was “ready to roll” before she powered back out onto the trail for the second half of her first-ever Yukon Quest. Moments after, Andrew Pace left with a smile as wife Kristen Knight Pace provided support with a quick high five on his way out. Luc Tweddell, Cody Strathe , and Paige Drobny were the next to decamp, leaving in short succession just after 7pm. Luc was surrounded by a supportive family entourage. A reinvigorated Rob Cooke was the last of the day’s departures, sliding out onto the Yukon River shortly before midnight.
Tore Albrigsten, Sébastien Dos Santos Borges, and Gaetan Pierrard are serving the last of their layover time and will resume the race tomorrow morning, while Tony Angelo is now under 20 miles from reaching the Dawson checkpoint, at which time he can begin his 36 hours.
At the end of Day 8, the rest of the field is situated as follows: Yuka Honda, Mike Ellis, and Seth Barnes are resting at Scroggie Creek with Dave Dalton still 10 miles out; Torsten Kohnert and Tom Frode Johansen are 25 and 37 miles out from Stepping Stone, respectively; Ed Hopkins is 14 miles from Pelly; Matt Hall has hit McCabe Creek; and the top three are separated by just 7 miles apiece, with Hugh Neff 13 miles from Carmacks, Allen Moore in second at 20 miles out, and Brent Sass in third at 27 miles out.
Check the live SPOT tracker for up-to-the-minute standings.