February 16, 2011
Tok, Alaska – 13:00 AST.
En route to Whitehorse by Alaska Direct Bus Line. Five passengers to from Fairbanks to Tok. One guy got dropped off at a driveway two miles out of town. There are two of us bound for Whitehorse, a Yukon student at University of Fairbanks studying music, and myself. The drive dropped us off at Grump Grizz Cafe. We have a wait here of about an hour. One 16-passenger van drives from Fairbanks to Tok and another drives from Whitehorse to Tok. The transfer of passengers happens here. The waiter tells me we’re lucky to arrive here “now that we’ve got the propane going again.” He says it was -51 Farharenit this morning and the propane line froze up. It’s warm in the restaurant now, at 13:00 AST.
My 2011 Yukon Quest adventure is almost over. Last night, I saw the first three teams cross the finish line in downtown Fairbanks on the Cheena River. It was a cold night, about -40 Celsius, no wind. Dallas Seavey was the first in at 23:05. Sebastian Schnuelle was next at 23:38. Seavey’s dogs looked tired but Sebastian’s was full of energy. Early on February 16, at 01:36, Ken Anderson crossed the finish line. Both he and his dogs looked tired. He is the 2011 winner of the 4 ounces of gold from Fell-Hawk Placers – he was the first to get into Dawson and cross the finish line in Fairbanks.
Seavey was very confident, collected, almost cocky. He is a phenomenon. He has the focus, discipline and personality to be the top dog driver in the world – and I suspect that if he decides that’s what he wants to do, he will do it. Julie Estey, former Executive Director for the Yukon Quest Alaska, was the MC at the finish line. She asked him how he felt by being a rookie and wining the Yukon Quest. He said, “The Yukon Quest is more of a secondary race for me. My real race is the Iditarod. The Yukon Quest is kind of like a training run for this young team I have here. All these dogs are second-hand dogs. I’m just building my kennel and I bought all theses dogs from other people so I wanted to see how they would perform.” When asked if he was satisfied with his performance he responded, “I set my run schedule and my game plan long before I started the Quest – and believe it or not, I’m within about an hour of my goal.”
Schnuelle commented on the trail conditions and how he was satisfied with his performance and happy with his dogs. Anderson said he was glad to be finished and really happy about the gold prize.
The bus is arriving – have to run!