Brent Sass wins Yukon Quest 300
Brent Sass won the Yukon Quest 300 in the early morning hours of Feb. 22, 2022, when he crossed the finish line at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse with 12 dogs on the line at 1:44 a.m.
“I’m really proud of this team. They did really well. Biggest thing is I got all 12 here (to the finish),” Sass said about his dogs. “That for me is the biggest thing. I finished with all (the dogs) in the (Yukon Quest 350) too, and that’s what this is all about. These guys were excellent.”
Sass had a 20 minute deficit to make up after warm conditions at the start of the race slowed his team.
“I knew that was a big deficit to make up, but then these guys picked it up,” Sass said. “Temperatures dropped and they just kept getting faster and faster and faster on those runs and we were able to make up the time on our competitors.”
Michelle Phillips was just over a half hour behind Sass, reaching the finish line at 2:16 a.m. with 11 dogs to finish second.
Mayla Hill, a Quest rookie, was third after reaching the finish line at 2:26 a.m. – just 10 minutes behind Phillips.
“The team did amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better dog team in this race. I’m super proud of how they finished; I couldn’t be happier with how they finished,” Hill said. “They kept their speed up and they nailed every run. They really nailed this race. I mean it’s not the 1,000-miler by any means, but it’s part of it. I started with nine dogs, (and) finishing with nine dogs, that’s an accomplishment I think. Those nine dogs sure did put their heads down and got the work done.”
Aaron Peck finished fouth at 4:06 a.m., with Deke Naaktgeboren fifth at 4:14 a.m.
Peck said he could see Naaktgeboren’s headlamp once he reached the Yukon River, but that he was likely still a mile or so behind.
“The first time you could see longer distances (is) when you get on the Yukon River, so I think that was deceiving,” Peck said. “I think in all reality he was still about a mile behind.”
Naaktgeboren and Peck spoke at the time station where both had stopped to rest before the final push into the finish.
“We’re sitting out at the wall tent and he mentions he’s leaving 10 minutes before I do, and I said, ‘Oh good, I get to chase you,'” Naaktgeboren said. “And I didn’t see him until about 10 miles to the finish and I knew he was way out in front.”
There was however, at least one more bit of excitement awaiting Naaktgeboren in those last 10 miles.
“I was trying to check the tracker on my cellphone, and I tipped my sled and fell into overflow, so I put the cellphone away,” Naaktgeboren said. “I said, ‘Put your phone away, Deke!'”
Connor McMahon arrived at 5:59 a.m. in sixth place with 10 dogs on the line.
McMahon said the trail on the final leg in from Braeburn started fast, and he had hopes of catching Peck.
“I was wondering if I would see Aaron’s headlamp – I just wanted to see his headlamp, see if it was working,” McMahon joked. “No, no, I knew after a short while I wasn’t going to be doing that so we slowed down, took it easy, reflected on the rest of the race and really started enjoying ourselves.”
That enjoyment didn’t last, as the blown-in trail along the river brought back memories of the YQ350 earlier this month.
“I was having flashbacks to Eagle (Summit),” McMahon said. “The dogs knew exactly what to do. They kind of perked up actually. They were like, ‘Hey, we know how to trot now. Let’s do this.'”
Sebastien dos Santos Borges finished seventh at 6:55 a.m., followed by Jerry Joinson in eighth place at 8:12 a.m.
Paul Hamlyn, this year’s red lantern, crossed the finish line at 8:32 a.m., bringing the last of four Yukon Quest races this winter to a close.