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Friends to the Finish (and Better for It)

Scott Chesney

Fairbanks, AK - The Yukon Quest trail can be long and lonely, but when the weather gets bad, mushers often decide to partner up.  That’s exactly what Darren Lee and Cody Strathe decided to do after a wind storm blew in over the Yukon River.  The two teams traveled together for most of the rest of the race. The trip strengthened a friendship, and maintained a competitive spirit.

Credit Scott Chesney /
Third time's a charm for Chistochina musher Darrin Lee

After driving his team across the finish line in Fairbanks Wednesday night, and kissing his wife, Cody Strathe only had two things left on his mind:  He wanted a beer and he wanted to see his friend Darrin Lee finish the Yukon Quest.  “It was awesome having Darrin’s help on Eagle Summit," says Strathe. "We got through it together and that was great.  Yeah, it’s just more fun traveling with other people I guess.” Strathe is the last musher to finish in the money, in 15th place, but he says that didn’t come between him and Darrin Lee as they traveled down the trail together. “We talked about it a lot, we joked about it a lot and in the end it happened this way.  He actually said he wanted to give his dogs more rest.  He said he conceded to me." Strathe rolls his eyes and smiles.

Darrin Lee’s happy dogs came running across the line two hours later.  It was a satisfying finish for Lee, who has attempted the Quest twice before.  His goal this year was to finish this the 30th running of the race. “It’s pretty awesome!" he says with a broad smile. "The most awesome part is the dogs because they look so good coming in. So to finish on an up with the dogs looking like this, it’s just amazing.”
After Lee checked in his mandatory gear, he and Cody Strathe shared a beer.  They had traveled together for nearly 400 miles between Eagle and Fairbanks.  

Cody Strathe says he’ll be happy to return to another Quest in the future.  As for Darren Lee, he says it’s his wife’s turn to race their dogs. He says he’s perfectly happy taking his team out to haul firewood.