Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 12, 2014

Latest of Quest’s surprises glides to finish

The latest in a long list of unexpected events occurred late Tuesday afternoon on the Yukon Quest trail.

By Marcel Vander Wier on February 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

THE ODYSSEY CONCLUDES – Matt Hall is seen with his lead dog Keeper after arriving Tuesday afternoon at the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race finish line at the Takhini Hot Springs, north of Whitehorse.

The latest in a long list of unexpected events occurred late Tuesday afternoon on the Yukon Quest trail.

Race rookie Matt Hall crossed the finish line at the Takhini Hot Springs to claim third place, nearly $13,000, and Rookie of the Year honours.

The 22-year-old race rookie said it was “pretty cool” to finish the race before more well-known mushers like 2008 runner-up Ken Anderson and two-time race champion John Schandelmeier.

One day, he hopes to be the first one to cross the finish line.

“I think it will take me a few more years,” Hall said after entering Whitehorse at 5:15 p.m. with nine dogs on the line, led by his prized husky, Keeper.

“There’s a lot of hours to make up on some of these guys, but I would hope that one day I could be there.”

Hall completed the race, which began Feb. 1 in Fairbanks, in 10 days, four hours and 24 minutes.

For 95 per cent of his time perched on the sled runners, the musher said he was smiling.

“The other five per cent of the time would be 6 a.m. when I only had an hour sleep in the past 24 hours,” he said. “Those were the hard times, just trying to stay awake and keep going.

“But it was just a great experience. I’m walking away 100 per cent happy,” he stated.

“It was a lot of miles, but we made it. The team’s looking great, and I had a blast.”

Hall entered the halfway point of the race in fifth place, but jumped two spots in the standings when mushers Brent Sass and Cody Strathe found themselves forced to withdraw.

Far behind the race frontrunners, the young musher said he found himself daydreaming of how he would alter tactics in future races.

“On my way into Dawson, I was already planning next year’s run, instead of the ones that were ahead of me,” he admitted. “I’m looking forward to many more years of it.”

A resident of Two Rivers, Alaska, Hall grew up in the community of Eagle as an only child.

His father, Wayne, is a three-time Quest finisher, while his mother, Scarlett, has been the race’s checkpoint manager in Eagle for years.

Hall said his reception from his hometown was the highlight of his race.

“It was pretty exciting to go home,” he said. “I hadn’t seen my folks in a while.”

Hall accepted a congratulatory phone call from his mother shortly after finishing his first 1,000-mile race.

Hall moved to Two Rivers to build his kennel, which has grown from its first litter in 2008 to 32 dogs today.

Two Rivers is also the home of Allen Moore, who won the Quest at 3:12 Monday morning, breaking his own previous record time.

See related feature on Hall.

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