Wearing bib #9, Defending champions Brent Sass and the Wild and Free Main Race Team started the 2016 Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race in Fairbanks, Alaska on February 6th at 11:24 AM. Wearing bib #9 at the starting line, the team surrounded by fans, loud cheers and even an “I believe.” sign. After 9 days, 2 hours and 46 minutes on the trail, Brent and the team brought home a 2nd place finish for Wild and Free Mushing.
For the third year in a row, Brent and the team were the first into the Dawson City check point arriving on February 12th at 12:21 PM. He was able to claim his 4 ounces of gold at the finish line in Whitehorse, Yukon. On how it felt to be the first team into Dawson City, Brent said “It’s awesome, but the finish line is still in Whitehorse. But it means the dogs are performing good. It’s been an interesting race for sure. Nothing like last year’s race, so that’s why I’m pretty happy to be here.”
This year’s race was certainly not like last year, or any other year. The team had to overcome a lot of obstacles but still ran well because of all the training they could lean on. It was one of the toughest Yukon Quest races Brent and his teams have run over the past 10 years. Even through the trail conditions and weather were some of the best he has experienced, the loss of Basin and some illness throughout the team sapped the energy from him and the team during the race. “We dealt with a lot of issues and overcame them. In the end, if I said I was disappointed, with everything that happened in this race, it would be foolish,” said Brent.
At the finish line, Brent praised his lead dogs Celia and Sound. “They led every step of the way. Every single mile. Celia never had a slack tug line, she never flailed at all. It was amazing. She held it together. No words to describe how proud I am of her, and all the dogs, but she definitely was the captain.”
Thanks to all the fans for the tremendous support throughout the race and on to the 2016 Iditarod, “The last great race.”