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Yukon Quest 2014 – Day 14

Yukon Quest map even years

Sled DogThey turned out the lights at Braeburn when Jerry Joinson left at around 4:30AM PST this morning with the Red Lantern. Eight hours will be added to Jerry’s finish time, so Jerry was pretty much assured of the Red Lantern if he finished.

Hank and the Siberians made it in at just before 8AM local with 11 puppies still pulling the sled, while Brian is making the final run with only 7 puppies still willing to haul the sled.

Mandy is leading the troika with 5 miles between the teams. She is running Brent Sass’s rookie team and doing a fine job bringing in 8 of the original 14 dogs. She is also the fourth of the five rookies who started the race to make it to the end – a good year for rookie mushers.

Mandy made it to the finish at about 2:40PM PST. It looks like Jerry will be next in, but after the 8-hour penalty he will end up with the Red Lantern.

Brian was the last finisher at about 3:45PM PST, but the penalty puts Jerry in last place. The race is over.

Standings at 5:50PM CST (3:50PM PST):

1 Allen Moore (8)
2 Hugh Neff (14)
3 Matt Hall (3)R
4 Ken Anderson (6)
5 John Schandelmeier (17)
6 Torsten Kohnert (13)R
7 Curt Perano (16)R
8 Hank DeBruin (18)
9 Mandy Nauman (11)R
10 Brian Wilmshurst (9)
11 Jerry Joinson (4) Φ

These are the official standings. That means they are official, not that they are correct. Things jump around a lot as people decide to update the standings. This problem is especially bad in the back of the pack, as no one bothers to update those standings when the lead is changing.

The Mushers in bold are former winners of the Yukon Quest, the numbers in parentheses are their Bib numbers, and the small “R” indicates a rookie.

Note: This post will be updated during the day, and the map changed on all posts to reflect the current situation.

All posts on the Yukon Quest can be seen by selecting “Yukon Quest” from the Category box on the right sidebar.


1 JuanitaM { 02.15.14 at 9:36 am }

Well, Jerry sure had more than his share of bad luck, but it seems like the universe picks out one musher every race to get all the bad luck at once.

Like you said, they’re running the equivalent of four marathons each day, so once *stuff* starts to happen, I guess it’s hard to recover.

2 Bryan { 02.15.14 at 10:48 am }

They spent a lot of time on the river, and the melt re-freeze cycle does the same thing to the surface of the river as it does to the surface of roads – frost heaves and potholes. There are a lot of ‘bumps and slumps’ to beat up a sled. With his luck, Jerry needs to study how to build and repair sleds, or shift to the Iditarod, which allows multiple sleds. Several of the mushers, John Schandelmeier among them, build their own sleds.

The Iditarod starts in a couple of weeks and they are talking about shifting the start to Fairbanks because of the poor trail conditions around Anchorage. That really will be a ‘Northern Route’.

3 JuanitaM { 02.18.14 at 12:34 pm }

Interesting news on the route change, Bryan. Wouldn’t that eliminate the Rainy/Pass area and the Burns area? That would certainly make for a change, wouldn’t it?

4 Bryan { 02.18.14 at 3:08 pm }

It would have eliminated the Happy Valley Steps, Rainy Pass, Dalzell Gorge, the Glacier, and the Farewell Burn, but the race committee decided not to change the trail. So, with little snow on the lower trail and all of those obstacles I see a race with a lot of injuries to dogs, mushers, and sleds.

The route from Fairbanks would have been the Chena River to the Tanana River to the Yukon River down to Ruby – Cold, windy, and fast. No worries about how you get to the bottom of Dalzell Gorge without snow to help you brake.

OTOH, the little settlements depend on the income they get from the Iditarod to survive, so the choice isn’t simple. All they can do is hope for snow, and the cold weather to continue.

5 JuanitaM { 02.19.14 at 12:21 am }

Yes, I can see that the small settlements really need it. But I sure would love to see another Iditarod where none of the dogs or humans get maimed or die. When an animal dies, I have a hard time paying attention after that.

6 Bryan { 02.19.14 at 10:37 am }

I don’t worry about the humans because they are doing this by choice, but the puppies are trusting the humans to make the right choice. I wouldn’t run this course, this year, because I believe it is too risky, and the possibility for injuring a dog is too great.

They need snow and consistently cold weather until the start of the race, and I don’t see either is the forecasts I’ve seen. I hope I’m wrong.

7 Badtux { 02.19.14 at 1:23 pm }

Will the humans who live with the dogs make the right choice and decide not to run if the conditions are bad? What will the Iditarod do if nobody shows up to run because they all decide it’s too dangerous?

8 Bryan { 02.19.14 at 4:25 pm }

Some of them definitely will look at the trail and quit. Brent Sass made the right choice and withdrew knowing that a rough trail will do nothing good to his body after his concussion.

The trail committee should have had the trail reviewed by at least the previous winners who know it very well.

It takes years to get a good team together, and that is a lot of time and money invested. You don’t throw it away on one race. If the snow isn’t there, you’ll get paw and leg injuries that will make it pointless to continue. It is the beginning of the race that is so bad.

There is an endurance race for snowmachines called the Irondog, and the racers are all saying that the winner will be the one who spends the least amount of time fixing their machine. Those machines break when there is no snow. The tracks are lot like the chains on a chainsaw, but there is no automatic oiling system. Normally the snow lubes the track and keeps it cool. Without the snow, the tracks overheat and seize up. If you aren’t quick on the clutch, the engine goes with it.

It could start snowing tomorrow, making the issue moot, but I don’t see that on the weather maps.

Races have been cancelled before because of bad conditions. You can’t fight the weather. They could also compromise and move the start to Nikolai, which is beyond the major problems.

9 JuanitaM { 02.20.14 at 8:25 am }

Badtux, you make an interesting point there. If enough well-known racers decided to pull out, it might force the Iditarod committee’s hand into making a safe decision. Those racers add a lot of interest (and I expect money) for the Iditarod. And the committee is always thinking about the money part. Or am I being cynical here?

The Committee seems to swing with a big stick most of the time, but perhaps the racing teams have more power than they realize. They just don’t use it, and I’m not really expecting it to happen this time, just thinking out loud here.

And Bryan, I agree. It’s the dogs I really worry about. I wonder what that says about me…and you…

I think it’s the fact that the dogs are so eager to follow their humans because they trust them, and it’s that betrayal of complete and utter trust we would all find appalling. For the most part though, they seem to take that trust seriously.

10 Bryan { 02.20.14 at 11:56 am }

If the trail is as bad as I think it is, Mike Ellis will pull out early. Mike isn’t going to take unnecessary risks with his purebred Siberians. There are other mushers who have more testosterone than good sense who go on for a while, but if they start having to drop multiple dogs before Rainy Pass, it will bring the point home that the race can’t continue.

The race is corporate, as compared to the Quest, and the Trail Committee serves the interests of its corporate sponsors to encourage them to continue supporting the race. It isn’t a sporting event, it’s a product. There would have been additional costs involved with moving the start, and corporations don’t like increasing costs.

I hope it isn’t going to be a disaster, but I’m not happy about the way things look at the moment.