All eyes were on the close race from Circle City to Central at the start of the day.
Brent Sass left Circle with a team of 11 at 00:21AKST, Matt Hall trying to nurse a 34-minute head start all the way to Central. Cold weather (-46 °F/-43°C) and some drifting made the trip through the Birch Creek section of trail slow going, Sass stopping for three hours from 0800 to 1100, Hall for two hours just before 10. Hall reached Central at 15:01, making the 74-mile run in 15 hours.
Approximately 16 miles outside of the Central checkpoint Sass requested assistance via his Spot Tracker due to concern over the safety of two dogs on his team. The Yukon Quest responded to this call, sending a Trailbreaker, Race Veterinarian and Official out to the location. As per Trail Procedure Rule #13 he would have been allowed to continue the race but made the decision to scratch once the two dogs were brought to Central for a vet check. The two dogs, Caputo and Healy, were checked and are both in stable condition.
After a rest period lasting 7.5 hours, Hall pointed a team of 10 toward Mile 101 and by midnight is 17miles from the checkpoint.
Hugh Neff, third out of Circle at 05:30 with 11 dogs on the line, was slow and steady through the Birch Creek stretch, checking into Central at 2130. At midnight he was still resting his team and now sits in second place.
Ed Hopkins edged Allen Moore into Circle by 13 minutes just after 0900, departing within an hour of each other (Hopkins at 14:20, Moore at 15:13) with 12 dogs apiece. Hopkins stopped to rest from 1830 to 2230, Moore using the opportunity to jump into third place before stopping to camp at 2200. At midnight Moore remains camped and in third place overall, with fourth place Hopkins on the move looking to close the eight-mile gap between them.
Paige Drobny’s first trail movement of the day was out of Slaven’s promptly at 0700, and she was into Circle by 14:52. Katherine Keith, her next closest competitor, indulged in Slaven’s renowned hospitality from 02:30 until 10:00, reaching Circle at 19:36.
Seventh place Torsten Kohnert arrived at Slaven’s at 06:30, staying until noon, then making the 60-mile run to Circle in nine hours, arriving at 21:09, and shrinking Keith’s lead on him from four hours down to just 35 minutes.
Ryne Olson was out of Trout Creek at 04:15 after six hours rest, making Slaven’s by about 1300. After seven and a half-hour’s rest she was on her way to Circle, still 30 miles out by day’s end. Not far behind her, Jessie Royer hit Trout Creek at 0200, was away by 0800, stopped at Slaven’s from 15:20 to 22:20, and as of midnight sits ten miles behind Olson, 40 miles from Circle.
Dave Dalton put some distance between he and erstwhile companion Rob Cooke in the first part of the day, getting out of Eagle only ten minutes earlier than Cooke (00:36 and 00:45, respectively), but picking up the pace to reach Trout Creek at 06:30, passing Brian Wilmshurst in the process. Wilmshurst was into Trout Creek 45 minutes later; Cooke, an hour. Wilmshurst and Cooke were first to leave at 12:30, Dalton out to give chase a half-hour later. Once Dalton caught up, the three of them made the run into Slaven’s together, arriving at 22:43, where they remain.
Ben Good rode solo for much of the day, getting the jump on Gaetan Pierrard and Sébastien Dos Santos Borges by departing Eagle at 03:33. Pierarrd left Eagle just after 0600, Dos Santos Borges at 06:35. Solo time was over after Good stopped and made camp at 2100, after which he, Pierrard and Dos Santos Borges resumed pack travel 22 miles from Slaven’s.
Standings as of 11:59PM:
1. Matt Hall
2. Hugh Neff
3. Allen Moore
4. Ed Hopkins
5. Paige Drobny
6. Katherine Keith
7. Torsten Kohnert
8. Ryne Olson
9. Jessie Royer
10. Brian Wilmshurst
11. Dave Dalton
12. Rob Cooke
13. Ben Good
14. Gaetan Pierrard
15. Sébastien Dos Santos Borges
16. Hank DeBruin