WHITEHORSE, Yukon - Sonny Lindner might be the last person to tell you the exceptionality of his sixth-place finish in the Yukon Quest.
The winner of 1984’s inaugural Quest not only placed high, he also was the final person Tuesday to break the time record set in 2009. Lindner finished in 9 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes.
At 60 years old, that’s no small feat, but don’t expect Lindner to tell you that. Boastful, he is not.
Lindner, of Two Rivers, hugged his grand-nieces and grand-nephews after his 10 a.m. arrival. The announcer’s microphone wasn’t working for a public-address interview, and there were clapping spectators but no screaming masses.
It was a quiet, respectful finish for the man who last raced in the Quest in 1992, when he placed second.
“He did a perfect run,” said Jay Cadzow, a four-time Quest veteran. “I’m sure he could have ran up there with the front guys, but he knew his dogs were a little bit less (strong), so he did it just right. Most guys would have just kept on going and then crashed in the end. He just got stronger in the end.”
Lindner explained his race a little more simply.
On his dogs: “They did good. I mean, we’re here.”
As for how the Quest has changed in the past 18 years: “There’s some new checkpoints.”
On his sixth place finish: “It was fine.”
Lindner’s concise answers are well-known to the media that follow him, but his dog care is what stands out to fellow mushers.
“He always wanted to show the world that he wants to be with his dogs all the time, and he doesn’t brag,” said Emmitt Peters, a race judge for the Quest who competed against Lindner in the Iditarod for two decades.
Joshua Cadzow finished one place behind Lindner. His father, Clifton, thinks the young man was better off for racing against Lindner.
“For Josh just to see all that (Lindner does), he can learn from it,” Clifton said.
Brent Sass, 30, hadn’t raced against Lindner until this year and said he was impressed by the veteran’s strong dogs and laid-back attitude.
“It’s just great that he’s out here representing the sport,” Sass said.
Lindner’s legacy is augmented every year. He continues to race competitively and doesn’t aim to stop any time soon. He’s mainly an Iditarod musher, taking part in 17 from 1978 to 2009 with four top-10 finishes.
As plenty of Quest fans have pointed out, he doesn’t look 60, much less 50, and still seems physically apt to take on any 1,000-mile race.
“I just keep doing it (dog mushing), I guess,” Lindner said of his fitness. “I spent a lot of years as a cement finisher. That gets you started good.”
Lindner said he doesn’t plan on running next year’s Quest, but he does plan on continuing to race in the Iditarod after skipping it this year.
Contact staff writer Joshua Armstrong at 459-7523.