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QUEEN OF THE NORTH – Michelle Phillips crossed the finish line in the shortened 2024 YQ450 race at 1:08 p.m. Monday. Photo by CRYSTAL SCHICK/YUKON QUEST

Phillips takes second straight Quest crown

Michelle Phillips has successfully defended her Yukon Quest title.

By Whitehorse Star on February 6, 2024

Michelle Phillips has successfully defended her Yukon Quest title.

According to the Quest’s Facebook page, Phillips, from Tagish, pulled into Pelly Crossing at 1:08 p.m. Monday to take the title.

She pockets $12,000.

The race had undergone many changes, including being shortened to 300 miles due to “deteriorating and uncertain trail conditions,” according to the Quest.

The YQ450 racers went from Pelly Crossing to Stepping Stone, then returned to finish in Pelly Crossing.

Mayla Hill finished less than 2 1/2 hours behind Phillips after arriving at the Carmacks checkpoint in first place on Sunday afternoon.

Key to Phillips’ win was her decision to take six hours’ rest at Braeburn, while Hill kept on going to Carmacks. That allowed Phillips to leave sooner to race for the finish line.

Phillips completed the race in two days, two hours and nine minutes.

Hill, now living in Carcross, finished in two days, four hours and 31 minutes.

Kailyn Olnes of Fairbanks finished third in two days, 12 hours and eight minutes.

Meanwhile, Misha Wiljes, an American-Czech living in Willow, Alaska, claimed the Red Lantern by finishing at midnight this morning.

She finished fourth in the YQ450. Wiljes took two days, 12 hours and 57 minutes to complete the race.

YQ450 mushers Connor McMahon of Carcross and Normand Casavant of Mayo scratched from the race at Carmacks and Stepping Stone, respectively.

Crystal To, from Vancouver but now living in Carcross, finished first in the YQ250 to Pelly on Monday.

Fairbanks’ Sean de Wolski took first place in the YQ100 to Braeburn on Saturday.

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