Summit Quest (2021 version of Yukon Quest)

Weekdays after the morning local news reports and at 1 p.m.; Weekend Mornings at 7:35 and 8:35
  • Hosted by Dan Bross, Lex Treinen
  • Local Host Dan Bross

The 2021 Summit Quest 300-mile race begins in Fairbanks on Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. Listen to coverage on KUAC FM weekday mornings after the news and at 1 p.m., and weekends at 7:35 and 8:35 a.m.

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02-08-20 Yukon Quest Update

Feb 8, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-08-20 Quest Update

Lex Treinen KUAC (Dawson City,Yukon) Emily Rosenblat has put a lot into the Quest, even though she’s not racing. She’s married to Richie Beattie, who’s making a comeback to Yukon Quest racing this year.

So far though, it’s been difficult for both of them Waiting at the finish line at the Midway point in Dawson, Rosenblatt explains that while it’s been difficult for Beattie out on the trail she’s had her own logistical struggles. It started with a broken car near Salcha when she and her dad, who is helping handle for Beattie couldn’t shift the car out of first gear. They call a mechanic friend for help, but no use.

“So we limp the truck back at 20 miles per hour to a friend’s place in Salcha, get a ride to town, pick up a U-Haul because you're just like thinking, adrenaline ‘what do I have to do to get to Dawson.?” she says. A frantic Facebook callout results in a borrowed dog trailer from Lance Mackey, but coming towards Tok sometime after midnight, the ball joint shears off from the trailer hitch. “And then at like two in the morning, you're starting to get a little sleepy, all of a sudden I see sparks flying up behind me and a horrible loud noise and the ball hitch on the truck literally snapped in half and the trailer detached and we were on a steady decline, so you know, it's still moving towards me but it stopped, so I stop, pull overrun into the truck and get those little reflective triangle things, put them out, just go in survival mode,” she says. After four hours of sleep in Tok, a slog to Dawson City ensues.

“It took us 20 hours, they say it's 12 hours to Dawson but it definitely took us 20 hours to get here through crazy roads and snow and everything, there was only a few crazy roadblocks. Now in hindsight it just seems like funny and ridiculous,” she says. They hit rock bottom she says. Now she’s waiting to see Beattie, whom she hasn’t seen since Circle.

“I'm feeling a little bit more positive about the second half of the race. Like nothing - it couldn't get worse than this at this point. Let's hope, knock on wood,” she says. It can get worse. Around the corner a dog team appears. It’s her husband’s team s, but Richie Beattie isn’t on the sled. A man that nobody recognizes jumps off the runners. Rosenblatt’s face drains of color as she calls for help as confused onlookers start to murmur. The race marshall is called from inside the checkpoint across the street where he had been in a meeting about trail conditions. Hatless and gloveless, he jumps on a snow machine, revs and zips off up the river where Beattie could be lying anywhere in the snow. In the finish chute, the dogs start to get nervous, despite Rosenblatt’s comforting. And officials try to comfort her, reminding her that another musher appeared shortly behind Beattie on the race tracker. Surely he’ll pick up a musher that’s fallen from a sled.

Finally, that team arrives. But it’s just Rob Cooke on the sled. But next to him just outside the finish chute, the race marshall zips in with the Beattie in back. He’s safe, but clearly still exhausted. Meanwhile, Rob Cooke in the finish chute explains what happened from his perspective as he and his team chugged down the Yukon River. “There was a guy walking down the trail and he was freaking the dogs out, and I was getting ready to really start shouting at him because he wouldn't move, and then he crossed the trail and he turned around and I recognized it was him, and so I said, what's happening, he said his dog team had just taken off, I just got him to jump on, we just shared the runners,” he explained.

Cooke said he could understand - he’s been extremely tired this whole race as well, dozing in and out of sleep amid the tough wind drifted snow and vertigo-inducing flat light. “I had similar situations last night, I was really struggling last night coming into Clinton Creek to stay awake, so I understand that, you know, and he didn't get much sleep in Clinton Creek I don't think, so I understand where he was coming from. He was super worried 3:30 obviously, his dogs had just taken off and in a situation like that, anything can happen,” he said. Just before the finish line, they ran into the race marshall, who brought Beattie to the finish. Even he was confused about what had happened. “A little while ago I just woke up and I was sitting around my sled and the team was laying in the snow, I have no idea how long it happened...cause I was way...I should have been here so long ago,” he says.

Luckily for him, the dogs did just fine. “They're great, they were barking when they came in just,” Rosenblatt tells him. After clearing the gear check and showing a passport, Beattie and Rosenblatt jump on the runners of the sled and head off towards the checkpoint, holding each other around the waist. A vet check clears the dogs and the musher is just fine. It’s a reminder that yes, things always could be worse. Beattie wasn't assessed any penalty, since rules state that in the case of an emergency, outside help is acceptable as long as it doesn't provide a competitive advantage. ###

02-07-20 Midday Quest Update

Feb 7, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-07-20 Midday Quest Update

By Lex Treinen, KUAC (Dawson City, Yukon) In Dawson City mushers are required to take a 36-hour layover, a much-needed break after the first 530 miles of racing. They get across the finish line, have their passports checked, answer media questions and then get ready to head off to the dog yard.

Friday morning, in the middle of a media interview, rookie Nora Sjalin is called to from just outside the fencing by a man wearing a Wild and Free jacket. She runs over for a hug. It’s Mark Sass, Brent Sass’s father, who is a constant presence at the checkpoint in between all of his other duties. Sjalin is borrowing some of Sass’s dogs, so the two have paid close attention to each other’s progress and the dogs’ health. "All the kids are doing good, huh ?" he asks. "Yeah, no they're doing great," she says.

But Mark Sass has plenty of other duties as well. After driving over thirty hours from Circle to Dawson City, you’d think he’d be tired, but immediately after Sjalin’s finish, he offers to drive me across the Yukon to visit Sass’s dogs. He describes what he’s been up to : it’s not much in the way of resting. “I clean the dog sled out, took it to the RMC, thanks to them, they give us a heated provided place where we can dry things out, so I dry out all the stuff and then I service the whole sled,”he says. Reliable handlers are a must have, and they take their jobs seriously. Making sure the sled is properly maintained is one of Mark Sass’s most important tasks.

As we cross the ice bridge over the Yukon River on our way to the dogyard, Mark Sass tells me how just how thorough he is. “Checked every bolt and nut, changed a piece on the brakes, one of the brakes broke and just make sure that it’s okay and then check the tool kit to make sure everything is there so if it did break, he's got enough stuff with him to fix or at least get by so he can carry on,” he says as he drives his truck across the ice bridge on the Yukon River. As much as his job is, Mark Sass is just an extra hand though. Official handlers stay out at the dogyard while he gets to sleep in a cushy hotel. “They have an Arctic Oven tent which is a heated tent and they stay out there and then they've been rotating back and forth,” he said.

Mark Sass unloads two heavy buckets of warm water for the dogs, taken from the checkpoint. He puts them on a sled and starts his trek past the other mushers’ camps that are set up along the way. It’s a decent walk, but Mark Sass is jovial throughout, stopping to chat with other mushers and their handlers. When we arrive at Brent Sass’s camp, the musher hard at work packing his sled. He’s intense about it and a bit snappy, but as he explains once he’s done, the next section of trail is one of the trickiest to pack for. “ It's a long trip over to Pelly, a couple hundred miles so there's a lot of dog food and a lot of gear. and you gotta pack for every situation you could possibly have, so you just gotta make sure you got what you need, you're all along out there for the next two hundred or so,” he says.

While almost all of the work in Dawson City is done by the handlers, packing a sled is something mushers tend to like to do themselves, just in case. Brent Sass says he has super reliable handlers in Mike Ellis and Steve Stoller, longtime friends and aids, but he still isn’t willing to give up all that trust. 1:00 “I trust em but it's better for me to see it go into the sled, and I think they want me to see it go in. Mike Ellis: it doesn't matter what I want” But he doesn’t want them to leave, either. “It's super nice for these guys to be here and watch it, especially Mike who's run many Yukon Quests. He kind of knows what I need, so it's nice for him to be watching and be like hey, do you have this, this would be a good thing to have, you know, double checking everything, and he's obviously watching me put everything in to see what I got too, so that's really handy and nice to have and you know, that kind of knowledge in a handler.”

And the handlers aren’t just watching over equipment, they’re also up at all hours taking care of dogs, and even protecting the mushers from themselves. Brent Sass says he’s slept almost 20 hours in the time he’s been in Dawson, thanks to them. “ Steve you know my personal assistant and making sure I fall asleep and taking my phone away and making sure I just get sleep here is super important and food, so I've had a really good stop I'm gonna get one more nap here I'm gotta few more hours and we'll be ready to go,” he says. With a 230-mile unbroken stretch of trail before him, that extra sleep will come in handy over in the next 24 hours. ###

02-07-20 AM Yukon Quest Update

Feb 7, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-07-20 AM Quest Update


02-06-20 Midday Yukon Quest Update

Feb 6, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-06-20 Midday Quest Update

02-06-20 AM Yukon Quest Update

Feb 6, 2020
Wild and Free Mushing

02-06-20 AM Quest Update


02-05-20 Midday Quest Update

Feb 5, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-05-20 1 PM Quest Update

02-05-20 AM Yukon Quest Update

Feb 5, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-05-20 AM Quest Update

02-04-20 Midday Yukon Quest Update

Feb 4, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-04-20 1PM Quest Update

02-04-20 AM Yukon Quest Update

Feb 4, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-04-20 AM Quest Update

02-03-20 Midday Yukon Quest Update

Feb 3, 2020
Lex Treinen / KUAC

02-03-20 1PM Quest Update

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