CIRCLE CITY, ALASKA (February 12, 2008) –Less than halfway through the 2008 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, three-time Champion Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, AK, has taken the lead. On his way to the Eagle (Alaska) Checkpoint, a remote community only accessible in winter by plane, snowmobile or dog sled, Mackey left Slaven’s Cabin Dog Drop at 3:20 this morning. In 2006, when the race traveled in the same direction, it took 37-year-old Mackey more than 17 hours to make the 101-mile (163-kilometre) trek between the two points. That would put him in Eagle around 10 a.m. Wednesday. Dan Kaduce, 38, of Chatanika, AK, had been leading a close pack of frontrunners ever since leaving the Fairbanks Start Line on Saturday, February 9, but Mackey blasted ahead at Circle City Checkpoint and appears to be holding strong to the lead. Ken Anderson of Fairbanks, AK, Dave Dalton of Healy, AK, Brent Sass of Fairbanks, AK, Hugh Neff of Annie Lake, YT and Michelle Phillips of Tagish, YT, left Slaven’s this morning within five-and-a-half hours of Mackey. At the back of the pack are four mushers who have yet to arrive in Slaven’s; the first of them left Circle City just after midnight this morning and the last of them, Jean-denis Britten of Whitehorse, left at 8:05 a.m. The run between Circle and Slaven’s is 58 miles (93 kilometres). It’s a very different race this year with all of the Yukon Quest mushers keeping relatively close together, just one or two checkpoints apart. Seven competitors who were at the back of the pack are now out of the race; six scratched at Mile 101 Dog Drop, five of them after attempting and failing an ascent of 3,685-foot Eagle Summit; one musher was withdrawn from the race at Chena Hot Springs. For updated information as the race progresses visit our new website www.yukonquest.com.
Lost Sports of the Winter Olympics: The fast and furry world of sled dog racing