Nathaniel Hamlyn wins Yukon Quest 100

Yukon musher Nathaniel Hamlyn won the Yukon Quest 100 early this morning, reaching the finish line in Braeburn at 5:39 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2022.

“I’m really proud of how my team did,” Hamlyn said. “When I came into this I thought, ‘OK, it’s 100 miles but it’s a long 100 miles.’ I always try and not think it’s easy. Just think it’s hard and then if it’s not hard, you’re surprised. But it’s going to be hard – it’s a Quest trail – and this Quest trail did not disappoint.”

Hamlyn said the run from the start into time station one included portions of overflow – some close to knee deep – that impacted his team in both negative and positive ways.

On the plus side, the water cooled his team down on a comparatively warm day.

“It cooled them down a lot; it’s freezing cold water,” Hamlyn said.

But there is always a but.

“Every bootie fell off my team without me taking them off and every team was the same. Everyone left the starting line with booties on every dog, and when they got to the time station, they were all gone,” Hamlyn said before adding, “(Also,) it ruins your momentum because you get water on your runners and it’s like sandpaper – it’s like going through water on your skis.”

Nathaniel Hamlyn’s team gets a post-race vet check after winning the Yukon Quest 100 in Braeburn on Feb. 20, 2022. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon Sports Report)

Hamlyn himself didn’t escape unscathed. Asked what he would do first after finishing, his answer was simple.

“First I’m going to change my socks because my boots were leaking and I have wet socks.”

And what was Hamlyn thinking for the final run into the finish in his custom water-cooled boots?

“What goes through my head is I need new boots, first off. And second, thank God it’s warm.”

But he couldn’t dwell too much on his sock situation, as Hamlyn said the trail on the second leg was much firmer, but that the trail had “waves” from the combined effects of wind, river ice and the trailbreaking snowmobiles.

“It was just bang, bang, bang, bang, for four hours and a bit,” Hamlyn said. “It doesn’t let you get any momentum; it’s super hard to get anywhere when you’re banging up and down. The dogs don’t like it, (and) you don’t like it. Give them a flat trail and they can pick up some speed, but in that it’s really hard.”

Martine Le Levier and her team placed second in the race, arriving just two minutes after Hamlyn at 5:41 a.m.

Hamlyn passed Le Levier just before time station one, and with the differential to account for start times after the mandatory four hours of rest, had a four-minute lead starting the second leg.

Looking back over his shoulder however, wasn’t the easiest task as not only were Le Levier and the other YQ100 mushers on the trail, but so too were the YQ300 mushers.

Aside from bib numbers, the only remotely noticeable visual cue was the number of dogs – YQ100 teams had a maximum of 10 dogs while YQ300 teams could have up to 12.

“Basically you have to count the dogs,” Hamlyn said. “On the river I was counting how many lines of dogs there were to figure out what race someone was in.”

Third place in the YQ100 went to Ilana Kingsley who arrived at 9:01 a.m., followed by Louve Tweddell and Lori Tweddell at 9:04 a.m. and 9:06 a.m. respectively in fourth and fifth.

Katherine Lapointe finished in sixth at 9:53 a.m., and as of 11:30 a.m., Jonathan Alsberghe is approximately 10 miles from the finish.

Yukon Quest 100 standings

1Nathaniel Hamlyn
2Martine Le Levier
3Ilana Kingsley
4Louve Twedell
5Lori Tweddell
6Katerine Lapointe
7Jonathan Alsberghe
Standings for the 2022 Yukon Quest 100

Michelle Phillips first YQ300 musher into Braeburn

Quest and Iditarod veteran Michelle Phillips was the first of nine mushers in the Yukon Quest 300 to reach the Braeburn checkpoint, arriving with her team at 5:39 a.m.

She was followed closely into the checkpoint by both Jerry Joinson at 5:44 a.m. and Connor McMahon at 5:53 a.m.

Sebastien Dos Santos Borges was the fourth to arrive, checking in at 6:34 a.m. and sparking another flurry of arrivals.

Paul Hamlyn reached the checkpoint at 6:37 a.m., Mayla Hill arrived at 6:40 a.m., and Brent Sass checked in at 6:42 a.m.

Deke Naaktgeboren arrived at 7:29 a.m. in eighth place and Aaron Peck was ninth into the checkpoint at 7:42 a.m.

It’s also important to note that the order teams arrive into the checkpoint does not correspond with where the team is in the race standings.

Mushers are required to take 28 total hours of rest – six of which must be in Braeburn along with each team’s time differential and 22 more which can be taken anywhere.

What that means is that decisions on race strategy – like whether to rest for two hours or four hours, for example – can appear to place a team higher or lower than reality because of the differences in remaining mandatory rest time.

In essence, it becomes very difficult to try to predict a winner or even a leading team at this point in the race.

The rest could have other impacts later in the race that cascade from these early decisions. Changes in weather and trail conditions both spatially along the race route and over time could give teams an edge or a disadvantage depending on, quite literally, which way the wind blows and when and where breaks are taken.

Assuming teams decide to knock out the mandatory six hours in Braeburn on the out leg, Phillips is eligible to leave at 11:39 a.m., Joinson at 11:47 a.m., McMahon at 12:08, Borges at 12:58 p.m., Hamlyn at 12:49 p.m., Hill at 12:58 p.m., Sass at 1:03 p.m., and both Peck and Naaktgeboren around 2 p.m. (Out times for Peck and Naaktgeboren were not available at time of publication.)

The Braeburn checkpoint dog yard started to fill up quickly with Yukon Quest 300 teams in the predawn hours on Feb. 20, 2022. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon Sports Report)