Quest mushers head for Dawson City

Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2003

DAWSON CITY, Yukon (AP) -- Mushers competing in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race were through the Pelly Crossing checkpoint, with the leaders expected to reach Dawson City at about 4 a.m. Thursday.

The 20 teams remaining in the race are on the longest run between checkpoints. The Gold Rush city of Dawson, where miners still spend summers scouring the hills and creeks for gold, is 206 miles from Pelly Crossing. Teams must go over the 3,800-foot King Solomon's Dome on their way to Dawson.

Race rules require teams to take a 36-hour layover in Dawson, where strong winds were blowing snow Wednesday afternoon.

Martin Massicotte of Quebec was in the lead when the top teams left Pelly Crossing early Tuesday. He was followed by Hans Gatt of Atlin, B.C.; John Schandelmeier of Paxson, Thomas Tetz of Carcross, William Kleedehn of Carcross and Hugh Neff of Coldfoot.

By Wednesday, three mushers had scratched.

Alden West, a rookie from Fairbanks; Deborah Bicknell, a race veteran from Juneau and Nicolas Vanier, a rookie from France, have dropped out of the race.

Race officials said Wednesday afternoon at least seven teams had passed through Scroggie Creek, but the order of the racers was uncertain. Weather conditions had delayed volunteers and provisions from reaching the cabin, which is about 100 miles by snowmachine from Dawson.

The Quest was first run in 1984 when 24 teams competed that year. Competitors follow a trail used by gold seekers during the 1898 Gold Rush and the mail trails used to deliver mail by dogsled before planes took over in the 1950s.

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