Update: Neff widens lead as Mackey’s dogs struggle
Hugh Neff continues to hold a strong lead in the early going of the Yukon Quest.
PELLY CROSSING – Hugh Neff continues to hold a strong lead in the early going of the Yukon Quest.
As of press time today, the defending champion held a 29-km (18-mile) lead over the second- and third-place mushers, Jake Berkowitz and Allen Moore.
The two Alaskan mushers are neck-and-neck after passing through the Pelly Crossing checkpoint earlier this morning.
Four-time champion Lance Mackey has struggled early. He dropped four dogs from his team of 14 in Carmacks, the raceʼs second checkpoint.
“Weʼre getting small fast,” a subdued Mackey told reporters during a brief conversation at the McCabe Creek dog drop site between Carmacks and Pelly Crossing.
“Theyʼre not eating. They started off not eating and itʼs pretty hard to go very far with no fuel. So you can just fill in the blanks from there ... dehydration, skinny, just all the things that make you go home soon.”
Mackey entered the dog drop in ninth place, but has since fallen out of the top 10.
He is nearly 100 km back of the early leader, Neff.
Whitehorse mushers Normand Casavant and Susan Rogan have continued their strong starts, and are currently ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.
The first musher into Dawson City, the next checkpoint past Pelly Crossing, will receive four ounces of gold, valued at $6,700.
From Pelly, the trail winds through the Black Hills prior to the Scroggie Creek dog drop site.
The trail then climbs 1,200-metre (4,002-foot) King Solomonʼs Dome before descending into Dawson.