Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

TIME FOR RELAXATION – Members of Ed Hopkins’ Yukon Quest dog team yelp with excitement this morning after arriving in Dawson City. Moments later, they set off for their mandatory 36-hour rest period at the dog yard.

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Photo by Dustin Cook

Ed Hopkins

Hopkins first Canadian to reach Dawson

In his 10th Yukon Quest, even experienced veteran Ed Hopkins is feeling the bitter cold.

By Whitehorse Star on February 8, 2018

DAWSON CITY – In his 10th Yukon Quest, even experienced veteran Ed Hopkins is feeling the bitter cold.

“I forgot to put a layer on when I left Fairbanks,” the Ten Mile, Yukon resident said just after he passed the Dawson checkpoint at 8:28 this morning.

“So I’m not equipped for this cold weather right now. I’m just shuffling through.”

The 53-year-old was the first Canadian to reach the midway point of the race with his team of 13 dogs.

He made a move from the middle of the pack late Wednesday.

He only made a very short stop at the Clinton Creek hospitality stop, whereas several other mushers have been refuelling there for several hours.

“I needed to get some water for my thermos and some coffee,” Hopkins said of his short break.

Arriving in Dawson, Hopkins and his dogs from the Tagish Lake Kennel were greeted by their handlers and dedicated fans and followers of the race.

He checked on his team after their 54-mile run as they were given a treat and then on their way to the dog yard.

Hopkins said the cold is a big factor, but it’s the dogs in front of him that are keeping him going.

“They’re awesome. That’s the only thing that keeps me warm when I’m camping out there is I’m running around looking after these guys,” he said.

This is the fourth consecutive Quest for Hopkins after finishing in fifth place the last two years. His fastest finish was his 2016 race in nine days, 14 hours and one minute.

Having run the race several times, Hopkins said, experience is a possible advantage, as he knows what he can do out on the trails and pace himself out over the 1,000-mile journey.

“My strategy is plan everything out from the beginning of the race and is pretty much what I’m following now. So it’s working out pretty good,” he said.

Hopkins is down to 13 dogs after dropping MacKenzie in Central.

“He had a sore wrist I didn’t think he was going to come back from,” he said.

How is the seasoned veteran going to recover from the cold?

“I’m going to jump in a bath tub for a couple hours, have a nap and go over and look after the dogs,” Hopkins said.

After the 36-hour layover, he will be allowed to resume the second half of the race at 8:28 p.m. Friday.

Hopkins is the first Canadian in Dawson of the six Canadians entered who all remain in the race.

Claudia Wickert and Rob Cooke, who are not listed as Canadians but both live in Whitehorse, are close behind in a tight-knit group.

Luc Tweddell and Nathaniel Hamlyn are the second and third Canadians respectively, separated by only a mile heading toward Clinton Creek.

Husband-and-wife team Jason and Jennifer Campeau are the remaining two Canadian mushers.

Jason started very strong toward the top of the race, but has since been stopped on his way to Clinton Creek for 16 hours.

Jennifer is currently in last spot of the 20 competitors and currently travelling at a brisk pace en route to Eagle.

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