Andy Pace is a veteran of two Yukon Quest 1,000-mile races. He completed his first one in 2016, and his second in last year’s race. He isn’t competing in the 37th running, but he is the armchair musher, ready to offer any insights into the race.
“I’m fine with my vantage point this year,” said Pace, from his home in Montana. “It’s nice not to be completely buried in logistics but this is a great way to keep involved with the Quest.”
The head of the pack Brent Sass had just reached the Clinton Creek hospitality spot when the Whitehorse Star got in contact with Pace. It is 56 miles to reach Dawson.
Regardless of which way the race traveled up the trail, Pace said his favorite part was the stretch between Dawson and Circle.
While racing, Pace said there is a sense of relief knowing you are about to reach Dawson City and the 36-hour mandatory layover. When he left the hospitality spot, it wasn’t an easy journey for him.
“My perception is skewed because I got stalled out about 10 miles from Dawson,” Pace said. "Getting to Dawson was hard. It’s so intimate and remote. When I had left Clinton Creek, there was a palpable sense of relief that there will be a break soon."
Pace said depending on the musher, after leaving such an intimate portion of the trail it can be a shock when you arrive in Dawson.
“It depends but it’s nice to see the ones you love,” he said. “If you had good runs it can be jarring to be around people again. However, you know you are going to have a warm meal and get some help.
“You are so excited to share your experiences and unburden yourself.”
At Dawson, the team handlers are allowed to help the mushers. Pace said a musher is reliant on their handlers to aid them.
“You really rely on your handlers,” he said. “It’s a huge job that you ask them to do for you. They’re dog people, who know your team, and it’s an opportunity for them to get their hands on the dogs.”
Pace also knows the Yukon Quest from the handler’s perspective, having helped his wife, Kristin Knight Pace during her 1,000-mile journeys.
“It’s nice because you finally get to help them,” he said.
Whitehorse Star reporter John Tonin is covering the Yukon Quest from the halfway point in Dawson to the finish line in Whitehorse, Yukon.