I’m a couple days late on this one, but on Tuesday, Sebastian Schnuelle crossed the finish line in Fairbanks, Alaska, to claim the 2009 Yukon Quest championship. He was followed closely by Hugh Neff, who finished just four minutes back, which is quite remarkable in a race that is over 1000 miles in length. Musher Jon Little arrived in third place, another 1 hour and 4 minutes behind.
The Yukon Quest is one of the top sled dog racing events in the world, and is held annually between Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada, and Fairbanks, Alaska. In winning this year’s race, Schnuelle completed the epic course in 9 days, 23 hours, and 20 minutes. That’s a new record time, besting the old record set in 2007 by Lance Mackey by 3 hours and 17 minutes. In fact, the top three racers would all have beaten Mackey’s record, giving you an indication of how fast this year’s race was. Four-time defending champ Mackey was at the finish line to greet the teams.
Sled dog legend Martin Buser finished in 4th place overall, and was followed very closely by Michelle Phillips who claimed fifth. Some of the mushers and their dogs are still coming in, but the majority have now crossed the finish line. Many will now begin preparing for “The Last Great Race”, the Iditarod, which will begin in just 8 days, with the ceremonial start set for Saturday, March 7th.
For Schnuelle, history is not on his side for winning the Iditarod as well. Mackey is the only man to win both in one year. Still, coming of a huge win like this one has to give plenty of confidence as he heads for Anchorage, and his date with destiny.
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