Yukon Quest 2020 start

The leaders of Jason Campeau's dog team are raring to go, as they wait to leave the start line. ALISTAIR GARDINER / NEWS MINER

Jason Campeau, of Rocky Mountain, Alberta, was the first musher to arrive at the Two Rivers checkpoint, the first checkpoint of the 2020 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race.

He pulled in at 6:53 p.m. on Saturday and, despite the fact that they had just run 73 miles, his dogs showed no signs of wanting to slow down. Even after Campeau had secured his sled, all 14 dogs continued to jump forward, attempting to continue their journey to Whitehorse, Yukon.

“I tried to camp and it didn’t work, so we just kept going. I looked for a few spots, but it was just too deep and the team was going so well that I just decided to come right through,” Campeau said while sitting at the table inside the trailer that serves as the checkpoint.

“Now I got a nice warm meal, so it worked out well,” he added, looking down at his half-eaten plate of lasagna served by the checkpoint volunteers.

This is Campeau’s first Quest since 2018, when he had an accident about 50 miles after the Eagle checkpoint, which resulted in a concussion.

“It was emotional starting this race,” he said. “To be honest it was almost like I spoke to my leaders and I asked them to protect me. And from there on they just took off… It was a pretty cool moment out there for me.”

His main leader, Olive, kept looking back at him reassuring him everything was OK. Campeau said he’s looking forward to getting past the place where he had to press his SOS button in 2018.

Three-time Quest champion Allen Moore was the next musher to reach the checkpoint at 8:18 p.m. Moore said he wanted to camp before the checkpoint but his left foot board came loose on the trail so he decided to go all the way to the checkpoint to see if it is repairable.

Michelle Phillips reached Two Rivers nine minutes after Moore. As of 10 p.m., Denis Tremblay and Cody Strathe were the only other mushers to reach the checkpoint.

The mushers will next complete the 41-mile stretch over Rosebud Summit to the Mile 101 checkpoint. Rosebud is one of the steepest climbs on the Quest trail.

Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.