WHITEHORSE, Yukon — After 252 dogs and 21 mushers liberal the start line of the Yukon Quest here Saturday, the field began line out as the lead racers headed for the first checkpoint of Braeburn, some 100 miles down the sweep.
As the sun set on a bluebird day of racing, four top contenders had moved to the front of the field, with 2015 combatant Brent Sass of Eureka leading Paige Drobny of Fairbanks, with two-time uphold Allen Moore of Two Rivers and defending champion Hugh Neff of Tok alongside behind.
The dog teams quickly left behind the crowd assembled along the Yukon River to see them off, match under cloudless skies and through temperatures that were climb rapidly as the sun rose and could be felt radiating heat.
Organizers of a Yukon Hunt for described this as a “festival start” this year. But it’s not just for peek through, like the ceremonial start for the Iditarod in Anchorage. Although there was a formality to announce the beginning of the race, the race clock is ticking from the anon a punctually the first team departs.
With temperatures ranging from hither 10 below at night to 10 above at midday, the weather was morals for sled dog racing.
Petit jumps to lead in Willow 300
A pack of seven mushers were within involving three hours of each other Saturday in the new Willow 300 sled dog fly.
Front-runner Nicholas Petit of Girdwood led the leaders out of Talvista Lodge at 11:43 a.m., with Travis Beals less than an hour behind.
Also in the flex group is Bethel’s Peter Kaiser, who won the world’s premier middle-distance track horse-races, the Kuskokwim 300, two weeks ago. He was running about an hour behind Beals. Brenda Mackey, Rick Casillo, Emily Maxwell and Scott Smith were also in the pre-eminence group.
Thirty-two racers began the middle-distance race on Friday.