On to Braeburn for Yukon Journey teams

With most teams making it into the Carmacks checkpoint late in the evening on Feb. 24, it was no surprise that the last team left the checkpoint bound for the Mandanna Lake time station and the Braeburn checkpoint at 6:07 a.m. on Feb. 25.

Connor McMahon, who’d been the first to arrive into the checkpoint, stuck to his plan of eight hours rest, leaving at 4:32 a.m. but no longer ahead of the pack. McMahon has the luxury of only needing 11.5 hours of mandatory rest before the finish – the second lowest total at this point behind Susie Rogan who only needs 11 hours.

The lead spot on the trail went to Kyla Boivin, who had arrived at 10:26 p.m. and left at 3:38 a.m. ahead of the pack, but with 13 hours of mandatory rest still to take between Mandanna Lake, Braeburn and the Braeburn trail time station.

Next out of the checkpoint was Hans Gatt, leaving roughly five minutes after Boivin. Gatt has 12 hours of rest left to take on the race.

Shortly after Gatt left, so too did Ed Hopkins at 3:47 a.m. Hopkins also has 12 hours of rest to take, and had one of the fastest runs into Carmacks.

Martine Le Levier and Jason Biasetti left a minute apart at 3:49 a.m. and 3:50 a.m. respectively. Biasetti, like Gatt and Hopkins, has 12 hours of rest remaining while Le Levier has 12.5 hours still to take.

Nathaniel Hamlyn hit the trail next at 4:07 a.m., and he too is required to take 12 hours of rest before the finish.

After McMahon’s departure, there was a slight lull in traffic of nearly an hour. Then Rogan left at 5:22 a.m., Marcelle Fressineau left at 5:29 a.m., Jacob Heigers left at 5:39 a.m., and Paul Hamlyn was last to leave, doing so at 6:07 a.m.

So, after day one of the race, the 11 mushers were all within two and a half hours of each other and need to take mandatory rest ranging from 11 hours to 13 hours.

Into Mandanna Lake

According to the pre-race trail report, conditions beyond Carmacks are expected to be more difficult than those faced on the first day. With the possibility of blown-in trail, overflow and jumble ice always lingering, it will come down to strategy to both stay near the front and keep dogs fresh for what is shaping up to be a sprint to the finish.

The first musher to reach the Mandanna Lake time station was Gatt, arriving at 6:20 a.m.

Behind him, Hopkins arrived at 6:23 a.m., Le Levier arrived at 6:25 a.m., Biasetti arrived at 6:26 a.m., Boivin arrived at 6:31 a.m., Nathaniel arrived at 6:53 a.m., and Rogan arrived at 8:20 a.m.

As of 8:48 a.m., Fressineau, Heigers and Paul are still on the trail to Mandanna Lake.

What is also more difficult beyond Carmacks is staying up-to-date on the race, as cell service and internet are by and large unavailable until Whitehorse making it nearly impossible to post updated information in anything close to real time.