YQ: The SPK Black Team’s March To Braeburn

I imagine many of you were nervous yesterday afternoon when Allen stopped to rest at Carmacks and Brent blew through the checkpoint. I know I was.

Allen rested his team the full 4-hour amount according to his strategy before setting off in pursuit of Brent, despite what must have been a very strong urge to hit the trail and not fall too far behind. It looks like that has proved to be an excellent decision, typical of Allen’s wisdom and experience both with his dogs and on the Yukon Quest.

It wasn’t a very fast run, but it was steady. As you can see on the summary plot below, the team made consistent progress, slowing slightly on the uphills and speeding up slightly on the downhills. Such was the team’s march to Braeburn.

As you know, the team arrived in Braeburn this morning and are well into their 8-hour mandatory rest. That may not sound like a lot, but it is plenty for SPK dogs to recharge, refuel and be ready for the last run of about 65 miles to the finish line.

Quite honestly, Allen is almost certainly feeling the worst of the bunch, but he’s as tough as they come and will certainly rally to the occasion. Allen’s primary focus is always on the dogs, but he’s also a staunch competitor who wants his team to do the very best they can. I’m sure we're all looking forward to the team's next march to the finish line!

On a separate note, I’m concerned for and about Brent. Through much of the night, he and Allen kept pace, with Allen inching ahead over the course. Brent suddenly stopped his team about 15 miles short of the checkpoint and stayed there for quite a while.

I can’t conjure up any tactical reason to stop so long just short of a mandatory 8-hour rest, so my thoughts run to him having some problem. There are many things that can happen on the trail: A dog can get loose and be hard to recover; a team can lose confidence and balk at a steep hill; a musher can have an accident and be physically impaired.

I hope none of those things have happened to Brent. He has run an amazing race and deserves to finish in good form. Perhaps someone will run out from Braeburn on a snow machine to check on him. I’m sure there are many of us who would like to know he’s okay.