Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

INTO PELLY – Yukoner Ed Hopkins and his team arrive Sunday morning at the Pelly Crossing checkpoint.

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Moore leads Quest charge into Braeburn

As day nine of the Yukon Quest comes to a close, anticipation is building as the leaders get closer to the finish.

By Dustin Cook on February 12, 2018

As day nine of the Yukon Quest comes to a close, anticipation is building as the leaders get closer to the finish.

Leader Allen Moore, who has been in front most of the way, arrived in Braeburn just after 11 a.m. today.

He will now have a final eight-hour mandatory rest before the final 76.5-mile stretch to the finish.

Moore was first to arrive in Carmacks Sunday evening to a large and excited crowd continuing to see mushers arrive today.

The two-time Quest champion was smiling and in high spirits when he arrived for a rest, which could be attributed to the conditions finally getting a bit warmer.

“Things are warming up,” Moore said after arriving with his full team of 14 dogs. “The last run was really good. It was good to see them speed up a little bit.”

When his large lead was being asked about, Moore quipped back with “There’s a separation?”

He said being alone and isolated for most of the race isn’t an easy task, but they have to stay focused on their race.

And the longtime musher does that by talking to the dogs along the way.

“Quite often. Got to keep them happy,” he said. “Sing Christmas carols.”

Still with his full team, Moore said although he may not need them all, they are all performing well, and doesn’t see a need to drop one.

“I’m keeping them all as long as they’re healthy,” he said.

The team has 13 leaders, Moore said, but as they get closer to the finish, he has been relying more on the experience of Dutch and Commando, who were up front in the race before.

“Just coming into town, they sped up a lot. They knew where they were,” he said.

Moore will be allowed to leave Braeburn at 6:46 p.m. today for the final journey to Shipyards Park.

Although out in front, many Quest veterans are in pursuit of Moore.

They’re led by defending champion Matt Hall, who broke away from Paige Drobny after they travelled most of the way together from Dawson to Pelly Crossing. At press time early this afternoon, Hall was about 35 miles out from Braeburn, with a 16-mile lead on Drobny.

Laura Neese made a charge from Dawson passing two mushers to jump to fourth place and she is now only four miles back of Drobny.

Yukoner Ed Hopkins sits in fifth position, and is currently resting just past the Carmacks checkpoint.

Hopkins arrived in Pelly Crossing in high spirits, and he too was excited to see a little bit warmer weather out on the trail.

“I never believe what anybody says about the weather breaking,” he said with a chuckle.

The veteran musher from Ten Mile has been running the race with a lot of younger dogs to prepare them for the upcoming Iditarod. There, they will run with Hopkins’ wife, Michelle Phillips.

“I think they’re doing awesome. The whole goal is actually just to get as many to the finish line as possible,” he said.

“But I have a slight problem with my competitiveness. I’m too competitive. I can’t sit still.”

Hopkins said this has resulted in them going a little faster than originally planned.

“I might be pushing a little too hard too, but I’m just going to take it easy here. I’m just going to try and get all these guys to the finish line without any real issues,” he said.

Yukoners Luc Tweddell and Claudia Wickert have been travelling in a larger group together most of the way and are currently in Pelly Crossing.

Rookie Nathaniel Hamlyn and long-time veteran Rob Cooke are at the back of the 15 mushers on their way to the Stepping Stone hospitality stop.

See more Quest coverage.

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