At 1:44 AM, Brent Sass and his team came charging into the finish line in Whitehorse to place 1st in the YQ300. Sass was all smiles and the dogs were wagging their tails and in high spirits, as they checked in with race officials and the veterinarian team. The last stretch into Whitehorse made for tough traveling conditions with winds gusting thirty to fifty kilometres an hour, but "it wasn't so bad" said Sass, who praised his team. "They pulled hard all the way here."
Reflecting on the race from start to finish, Sass said the first leg from Whitehorse to Braeburn was slower going due to warmer temperatures, overflow on the river, and deep snow. But as the race progressed, the temperature dropped and his team picked up speed.
"At first we were 20 minutes slower than everyone else. I knew that was a big deficit to make up. But then these guys picked it up, temperatures dropped and they kept getting faster," said Sass. "I'm really proud of this team. The biggest thing is that we finished with all twelve dogs - that to me is the biggest thing. That's what this is all about."
It was a tight race between mushers in this year's YQ300. Michelle Phillips and her team set a fast pace early on in the race, with first time Quest racer, Mayla Hill, of Grande Prairie, Alta., following closely behind.
Phillips was second across the finish line in Whitehorse at 2:16 AM as the winds howled. "Really loved that blizzard," she laughed, as she praised and checked her dogs. Everyone was in good shape and good spirits, despite the weather.
Mayla Hill and her team finished only ten minutes after Phillips at 2:26 PM. Hill had a strong race from very get go, starting and finishing with only 9 dogs, and arriving back at the finish line in good form. "I feel great," said Hill. "Although maybe a little tired," she laughed. No doubt as this year's mushers faced all conditions from warm weather and overflow to 40 below zero and 50 km/hour winds.
What an amazing effort by our top 3 finishers and their teams! Congratulations to Sass, Phillips, and Hill!